A language of Ireland

Alternate Names
Erse, Gaelic Irish, Irish Gaelic

1,171,000 in Ireland, all users. L1 users: 141,000 in Ireland (European Commission 2012). L2 users: 1,030,000 (European Commission 2012). Total users in all countries: 1,200,300 (as L1: 170,300; as L2: 1,030,000).


Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, part of Mayo, Meath, and Waterford counties. Western isles northwest and southwest coasts.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Statutory language of national identity (1937, Constitution, Article 8(1)).


Munster-Leinster (Southern Irish), Connacht (Western Irish), Donegal (Northern Irish, Ulster).


VSO; prepositions; noun head initial; gender (masculine/feminine); definite article; case-marking (3 cases); verb affixes mark person, number; tense and aspect; comparatives; 32 consonants, 11 vowels, 4 diphthongs; non-tonal; stress on first syllable; initial consonant mutation.

Language Use

Some young people, all adults. A number of children learn the language but the number is decreasing (Salminen 2007). Also use English [eng] (Salminen 2007).

Language Development

Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1685–1981.


Latin script [Latn]. Latin script, Gaelic variant [Latg]. Ogham script [Ogam], no longer in use.

Other Comments

Taught as an official language in schools and encouraged by the government.

Also spoken in:

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