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  • Irish, also known as Irish Gaelic or Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European languages family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language by a small minority of Irish people, and as a second language by a rather larger group. Irish enjoys constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. It is an official language of the European Union and an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland. Irish was the predominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, and they brought it with them to other countries, notably Scotland and the Isle of Man, where it gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and Manx. It has the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe. The fate of the language was influenced by the increasing power of the English state in Ireland. Elizabethan officials viewed the use of Irish unfavourably, as being a threat to all things English in Ireland. Its decline began under English rule in the seventeenth century. In the latter part of the nineteenth century there was a dramatic decrease in the number of speakers, beginning after the Great Famine of 1845–1852. Irish-speaking areas were hit especially hard. By the end of British rule, the language was spoken by less than 15% of the national population. Since then, Irish speakers have been in the minority except in areas collectively known as the Gaeltacht. Efforts have been made by the state, individuals and organisations to preserve, promote and revive the language, but with mixed results. Wikipedia

Freebase Commons Language /language

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