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11 Interesting Facts About the Irish Language

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.

For example, about 18,000 Americans speak Irish at home.  There are about 9,000 Irish speakers in Great Britain. And there is even a (small) official “Gaeltecht” in Ontario, Canada. 

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 spaceRead more

St. Patrick’s Day

A little history….

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th March.

St. Patrick himself is a man of mystery and very little is known about him. What we do know is that St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. When he was 16 years old he was taken to Ireland as a bargaining prisoner.

After being transported to Ireland he worked in the hills as a shepherd. During this time he was lonely and scared and turned to Christianity to help him get through. To escape St. Patrick walked over 200 miles to the Irish coast and made his way back to Britain.

St. Patrick had visions of a Christian Ireland and after returning to Britain he gathered himself and returned to Ireland to preach to the people.

Celebrations….

St. Patrick’s Day falls in the time of lent, a time of fasting. In Ireland families would generally attend church in the morning and then celebrate in the evening. On this day they ignored the rules of lent and would have lots of good food and plenty of drink.
In Ireland up until the 1970’s pubs were closed by law (as they were on a Sunday) on St. Patrick’s Day. In 1995 the Irish government realised the potential profit in opening their doors to tourists and began a marketing campaign to showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year they attracted almost 1 million people to the capital Dublin and I have to say the really do put on a good show.

Typically the first big St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in good old New York in the USA not in Ireland at all. In 1962 the city of Chicago took the day to a whole new level and actually dyed the river that runs through the city green!
It was an idea put forward by the cities pollution-control workers who used dyes to trace illegal sewage waste. They released 100 pounds of vegetable dye which was enough to keep it green for a whole week. Today they still carry on the tradition but only use 40 pounds of the dye to minimise the environmental impact. This amount keeps it green just for the day.

Shamrocks are everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day, also knows as the ‘seamroy’ to the Celts. It is a sacred plant which symbolises the rebirth of spring. It also became a symbol for the patriotic Irish, as the English claimed Irish soil the Irish men began to wear Shamrocks as a symbol of pride in their heritage and to state their displeasure with English rule.

The day has become more about advertising and drinking than the religious feast it once was. It is celebrated all over the world. So go out, celebrate and drink Guinness (please drink responsibly).

And while you are out enjoying yourself here are a few Irish ditties and toasts to say whilst raising your glass to good old St. Patrick….

The Scots have their whiskey
The Welsh have their tongue
But the Irish have Paddy
Who’s second to none

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I’ve drunk to your health in the pubs ,
I’ve drunk to your health in my home ,
I’ve drunk to your health so many times ,
That I’ve almost ruined my own.

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May you never forget what is worth remembering,
Or remember what is best forgotten.

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There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn’t drink when he’s living,
How the hell can he drink when he’s dead?

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May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

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May you get all your wishes but one,
So you always have something to strive for.

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Here’s to you,
here’s to me,
the best of friends we’ll always be.
But if we ever disagree,
forget you here’s to ME!!

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Here’s to you as good as you are,
Here’s to me as bad as I am,
As good as you are,
And as bad as I am,
I’m as good as you are,
As bad as I am.

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May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

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Health, and long life to you
Land without rent to you
The partner of your heart to you
and when you die, may your bones rest in Ireland!

Irish Translations and Traditions for St. Patrick’s Day 

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, the time of year when everyone is at least part Irish (or pretends to be.) But put down the green beer – it’s time to take your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to the next level.  And we’re here to help, with a round-up of St. Patrick’s Day traditions from around the world and some helpful Irish translations for a more authentic St. Patrick’s Day experience.

St Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the World

St. Patrick’s Day originated in Ireland as the feast day of St. Patrick. But it really came into its own amongst Irish immigrant communities in the United States. And since Ireland has historically been a nation of emigrants, St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated around the world.

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the World: Parades6995631593_da7b3ac6b3

Surprisingly, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade didn’t even take place in Ireland. It was held in New York City in 1762. Ireland didn’t get in on the action until 1903!  Read more