It’s St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the occasion, let’s get to know the Irish language a little better. Here are 11 facts about Irish that will make you sound smarter when you’re out celebrating with a pint tonight:
Approximately 1.77 million people speak Irish in Ireland today.
Anywhere from 30% to 40% of the population of Ireland can speak Irish. However, only around 140,000 of them are native speakers. Most learn it as a second language. Only around 82,000 people speak it daily outside of school.
The language has spread outside of Ireland, too.
Irish used to be one of the main languages of Newfoundland, Canada.
Starting in the late 1600s, Irish immigrants began arriving in Newfoundland to work in the cod fishery there. Between 1750 and the 1830, the stream of Irish arriving on the island turned into a flood. By 1815 there were more than 19,000 Irish in Newfoundland, and the majority of them spoke Irish.
The language died out in Newfoundland by the 19th century, but it left some traces in the local dialect that still persist today.
The Irish language has even been used in space.
In 2013, Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield sent a tweet captioned in Irish from the International Space Station. This marked the first time the Irish language was used in outer space. Read more