Learning The Native Language of Ireland During Your Holiday Trip
The native language of Ireland was known as Gaelic in the past. Some folks chuckled that Gaelic was the most perfect instrument in the world for curses, lovemaking, and prayers. Now days, the word Gaelic has been replaced by Irish; and no person is joking anymore.
Irish is basically a Celtic language that is related to Breton, Welsh, and Scots Gaelic. The sovereignty of the language as the country’s official language was restored by a legislation passed in the March of 2005.
Although English is considered the country’s second language, 95%of the Irish population speaks it every day. However, Ireland’s western coastlands still speak Gaeltacht, which is pronounced as gale-taukt. The communities speaking this language are mainly found in the rural areas of the western seaboard, which are sparsely populated; on a few islands; and, in small areas in County Waterford and West Cork.
The regions in the counties of Galway and Donegal along the western seaboard have new laws that ordered Irish to be used for signage, so people travelling to these areas must keep that in mind. English has been cast out of the official maps and road signs in these regions of Gaeltacht. You definitely do not want to get lost in a region where no one speaks your language; therefore, you must learn a few words and phrases to enable you to communicate with the locals, and help you move around in the region.
For a region that earns from tourism, it is strange that the most common foreign language would be outlawed, but the Irish are a very patriotic people, and nothing comes before their love for their country and language. ´Locals concede the switch will confuse foreigners in an area that depends heavily on tourism, but they say it’s the price of patriotism,’ reported the Associated Press.
Some of the biggest tourist destinations reside in the Gaeltacht regions. If someone wants to travel from Killarney to Dingle, they must follow the sign saying ‘An Daingean’, which in Irish is Dingle. Other such examples include: Corca Dhuibne, meaning Dingle Peninsula; Arainn Mhor, meaning Aranmore Island; and Oileáin Árainn, meaning Aran Islands.
The law ordering the use of Gaelic for signage has affected above 2,000 areas, so you are advised to get equipped with an Irish-friendly or updated map if you plan to visit these regions. Ordinance Survey maps only print Irish names in these regions, so do not reply on them.
In some cases, the English version of the name remains accepted and well-known in local expression. For example, many hotels, like the Dingle Bay Hotel, choose to keep the English version of their names.
The guidebook contains both the English and Irish version of the names of the main areas that have been affected by the law. Outside the Gaeltacht region, Ireland has bilingual road signs all over.
Out of a population of four million, there are only fifty-five thousand natives who speak Irish. This statistical fact has fuelled a major debate on a national level, with tourist authorities and local councils starting to object the laws. You can check out the debate and follow it by searching for it online: Official Languages Act 2003.
However, learning some basic vocabulary of Irish cannot hurt: mná (meaning women), and fir (meaning men) will prove to be very useful when you need to attend the public restrooms.