Irish Sign Language


A language of Ireland


Dublin and elsewhere.

Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


British Sign Language (BSL) [bfi] was formally introduced to Ireland in 1816, but references to signing go back much further in Irish history. Separate schools for boys and girls resulted in strong gender-based dialectal differences, but these have diminished with time. In 1846, the Catholic nuns who established St. Mary’s School for Deaf Girls went to France, so contemporary Irish Sign Language includes aspects of nineteenth-century French Sign Language [fsl] as well as BSL, with influence from signed French, signed English, and gestural systems like cued speech. The name “Irish Sign Language” (ISL) came into common use following the publication of a dictionary of ISL in 1979 and establishment of the Irish Deaf Society in the mid 1980s. (Leeson 2012).

Language Use

Several deaf schools with 750 to 800 students in each. Committee on national sign language, and organization for sign language teachers.

Language Development
TV. Dictionary.