Celtic Languages are seeing a revival among people of Celtic descent around the globe in an effort to reclaim and retain an identity and culture that was once outlawed by the English crown. "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." -Marcus Garvey The Celtic languages, or languages of Celtic origin are Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Cornish and Manx, all of which descend from Common Celtic which was spoken by the ancient Celts in Ireland and Britain. All of these versions of Gaelic are considered endangered by UNESCO with the exception of Welsh, which is still commonly spoken throughout Wales. According To Wikipedia: "The history of the Irish language begins with the arrival of an ancestral Celtic language in Ireland. It is highly unlikely that the Mesolithic language of the first settlers (hunters and gatherers) or the Neolithic language of the first farmers was related to Irish. Given that there is no archaeological evidence for a "Celtic invasion," it would initially have been an introduced language of prestige, belonging to important social domains associated with hillforts, a warrior elite and Iron Age ritual centres. There is also evidence for Celtic tribal names in Ireland in this period. From these domains the language spread, just as English was to do later. The date of introduction continues to be debated by linguists and archaeologists. Some scholars put the earliest date at ca. 1200 BC, while others posit dates between 2600 and 2000 BC. The earliest written form of the Irish language is known to linguists as Primitive Irish. Primitive Irish is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the Ogham alphabet. The earliest of such inscriptions probably date from the 3rd or 4th century. Ogham inscriptions are found primarily in the south of Ireland as well as in Wales and Cornwall, where it was brought by settlers from Ireland to sub-Roman Britain, and in the Isle of Man." And According to The Guardian "Gaelic was introduced to Scotland from Ireland in the 5th century and remained the main language in most rural areas until the early 17th century. It was outlawed by the crown in 1616, and suppressed further after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Less than 100 years ago children were beaten into speaking English at school." The term "Gaelic Revival" is used to describe a period in the 19th century when Gaelic sports, culture and language were given renewed interest in Ireland. But although the movement tried to reestablish all things Gaelic in daily Irish life, Most Irish people had begun to associate Gaelic with poverty and Irish Gaelic was mainly only spoken in rural Irish homes and was forbidden in schools. The Easter Rising and and the subsequent Constitution of the Irish Free State declared Irish the official language of Ireland and all Irish children are required to learn Irish Gaelic through both their primary and secondary education. It is estimated that somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 Irish speak Gaelic as their native language and the regions [caption id="attachment_783" align="alignleft" width="290"] Irish road signs with Irish first, of course.[/caption] where Irish is spoken as a first language are called the Gaeltacht. Throughout the Republic if Ireland today, you will find most signs written in Irish first and in airports, tour buses and museums you will always hear Irish Gaelic spoken first. For those of us who can't immerse ourselves in a Gaelic speaking community to teach ourselves Irish, we have to settle for learning Gaelic Irish through apps like Duolingo, or find classes in our communities. For those of us in the Kansas City area, we are fortunate to have the resources of The Kansas City Irish Center who offers classes in Irish. The Celtic languages are a fundamental component to retaining and understanding one's Celtic origins and culture. Most of us will probably never become truly fluent in Gaelic, but it might not be a bad idea to learn a bit more Gaelic than "Eirinn go Brach" and "slainte!"
According to Google, a Celt is: kelt,selt/ noun plural noun: Celts a member of a group of peoples inhabiting much of Europe and Asia Minor in pre-Roman times. Their culture developed in the late Bronze Age around the upper Danube, and reached its height in the La Tène culture (5th to 1st centuries BC) before being overrun by the Romans and various Germanic peoples. a native of any of the modern nations or regions in which Celtic languages are (or were until recently) spoken; a person of Irish, Highland Scottish, Manx, Welsh, or Cornish descent. from Latin Celtae (plural), from Greek Keltoi ; in later use from French Celte ‘Breton’ (taken as representing the ancient Gauls). celt selt/ noun ARCHAEOLOGY plural noun: celts a prehistoric stone or metal implement with a beveled cutting edge, probably used as a tool or weapon. So it's a person or a cutting tool. Sometimes both (heehee). Commonly the term Celt is used to describe persons of Irish, Scottish, Cornish or Welsh descent, although there are seven Celtic Nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Galicia/Spain, the Isle of Man, and Brittany/Western France). Mostly, the ancient Celts are a mystery. They had no written history, although they had a written alphabet based on trees, called Ogham which can be seen on on monuments around Ireland, Scotland, and Wales among other Celtic countries. Their religion is also a mystery, there are neolithic monuments throughout Celtic countries, thought to be tombs. One of the most famous of these is Newgrange in the Boyne Valley of Ireland. Interestingly, during Winter Solstice, the light comes through a passage inside the monument and lights up the back. This particular monument pre-dates Boru Wood Quay warrior inspired pendant. Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Ancient Celts were artists, carving spirals on their monuments, as well as making metal chalises such as the ones found at Arda, the designs on these are used today in Celtic jewelry, cups, plates, wall hangings and other household items. They were fierce warriors, and painted themselves with woad, a blue dye created from a plant to frighten their enemies. They fought naked, and it's believed that Celtic women fought along side their male counterparts. The ancient Celts were a mysterious group, full of passion and spirit. That legacy lives on in their modern ancestors. Next time you meet an Irishman, Scotsman, or Welshman, remember their rich ancestry. If they're painted blue, well...
On Valentine's day we think of love, romance, passion, Ireland... It's a cool and dreary island, with frequent gray days which makes for a passionate group of folks! Let's look at some Irish (there are too many to list here) terms of affection: A chara (uh KHAR-uh): This means friend Mo anam chara (mo anum KHAR-uh): Soul friend, this differs from soul mate, as it can be used in a less romantic sense, and more of a spiritual sense. A stór (uh stohr): My treasure, can be used for a romantic love or for a child, a more general endearment.
Language is an undeniably important part of any culture. In Ireland, the effort to keep the Irish language thriving as fully recognizable and practiced seems to be a fight worth fighting. The Irish people faced a dying national language in the 1800s, after years of British rule and massive emigration during the Potato Famine resulted in English becoming the official language of all business and administration. In an effort to save the language, the government in Ireland facilitated the Gaeltacht regions as places where the population still predominantly spoke Irish in its day-to-day business and education. Today these regions have more than 100,000 native speakers who continue to protect and practice Irish in schools, markets, churches, and on the streets. In these areas specifically, the evidence appears to show a gradual increase in the interest in and use of the Irish language, making many Irish language defenders optimistic about its future. There are mixed messages, however. Just recently the Eircode was established as a nationwide postal code and it translated, needlessly many would say, more than 50,000 Irish names into English. On the other end of the spectrum is the 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language, established in 2010 by the government. The goal of the "20-Year Plan" is to establish Irish so deeply in the culture that it will never again face extinction. Critics say the plan is long on talk, and short on legitimate efforts. In spite of all the politics, the key does seem to be maintaining the communities which are immersed in Irish. Teaching the language in each school country-wide is mandatory, but everyone agrees that the effects are weak when students only speak it at school. “I think the education system is good at impressing upon people that they should be fluent in Irish,” says Aoife Crawford, Irish Language Officer, Trinity College, “but not successful in making them fluent.” One hopeful sign is the interest that people of Irish heritage are showing in the native language. More and more Irish-Americans in particular are intrigued by learning at least a beginners’ level of Irish. There are many free websites offering study-on-your-own links to the language. Those in the Gaeltacht worry about a future without Irish if the younger generations do not commit to learning, speaking and celebrating the language. “If we do (let it go) then we are letting go of part of who we are,” said Eddie Lenihan, Irish storyteller, “If we can get that across to people, then it will survive.” “The day we let Irish go, then we are in trouble.”P Part 2 of 2
No one can ever accuse the Irish of forsaking their past or not being intensely proud of their heritage and history. What better way to remember the Ireland of old than by using the native language to speak up and speak Irish? The earliest form of the language is found in 4th century inscriptions. The most modern is in schoolrooms and online tutorials worldwide. Is Irish a dying language? Not if today's Irish residents and hibernophiles have anything to say about it. Sadly there was a time in Irish history when the British were strong and many considered the Irish Gaelic language as backward. Thank goodness for the few who believed the language must not be replaced. Efforts to maintain the language were sporadic and not always effective until the 1960s when presidents and prime ministers began to use the language extensively at home and at work. In an effort to further the foundation of the language, the Official Languages Act was passed in 2003. At its root, it ensures that all official documents are published in both English and Irish and that neither language is disrespected. Today compulsory Irish is required in all publically-funded schools. The subject can be touchy for politicians as both sides feel strongly and the requirement is widely debated in Ireland. Some believe the forced focus has backfired, but slowly it seems the population is regarding the Irish language as both traditional and trendy. Young people now converse with each other in Irish Gaelic in a way that makes it seem cool and important. So what is the difference between Irish and Gaelic? Not much, it turns out. Gaelic can refer to either Irish or Scottish as both have Celtic roots. In general, Irish Gaelic or Scottish Gaelic is the specific way to delineate between the two, but the languages are close enough to be easily understood by anyone who speaks one or the other. So what's the real true difference? Accent, of course. Any Amadán could tell you that though they both bellow, "Slàinte!" at the bar, you can spot the difference between an Irishman and a Scot by the kilt and by the accent. Brothers they are, but do not mistake one for the other. Part 1 of 2