Voice over Sydney: Irish is a Celtic language, as is Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic (Manx), Welsh, Breton and Cornish. The Gaelic languages come from Old Irish and the other three Celtic languages come from British. There were other Celtic languages spoken on the European Mainland, but they died out around 1,500 years ago. The Celtic languages are believed to have come from Common Celtic, which came from Indo-European itself.
Voice Over Sydney: The Beginnings of Irish
We cannot be certain when Irish first came to Ireland, but many scholars believe that it was here over 2,500 years ago. It is certain that there were other languages spoken here before Irish but, by the start of the Christian era, Irish was spoken all over Ireland and was spreading through Scotland, the west coast of Britain and the Isle of Mann. The Romans called the Gaels Scotti and they eventually spread the Gaelic language throughout most of Scotland.
Voice Over Sydney: Ancient Irish
The oldest remains of Ancient Irish that we have are inscriptions on Ogham stones from the 5th and 6th centuries. Old Irish was first written in the Roman alphabet before the beginning of the 7th century which makes Irish the oldest written vernacular language north of the Alps.
During the Middle Irish period (900-1200 AD) some loanwords came from the Scandinavian language, words like ‘pingin’ (penny), and ‘margadh’ (market), but Scandinavian had little effect on the syntax of the Irish language. This was a period of strife and conflict but, despite that, the Gaelic literary culture never failed and we have many manuscripts that survive from the Middle Irish era.
Voice Over Sydney: Norman Influence on Irish
The Anglo Normans began settling in Scotland at the end of the eleventh century and in Ireland in the last third of the twelfth century. The Anglo Norman conquest started a period of multilingualism in Ireland, but Irish remained in the ascendancy and, gradually, the Normans began to speak Irish. By the start of the sixteenth century most of the people of Ireland were Irish speakers again. Among the words that the Anglo Normans introduced into Irish are ‘giúistís’ (justice), ‘bardas’ (corporation), ‘cúirt’ (court), ‘garsún’ (boy), and many, many more.