General Question

RockerChick14's avatar

How many Irish people speak Irish fluently(even as a second language)?

Asked by RockerChick14 (948 points ) July 20th, 2013 from iPhone

I’m curious since Irish is a official language but English is mainly spoken.

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Here are some figures. I don’t know how accurate they are.

“Around the turn of the 21st century, estimates of native speakers ranged from 20,000 to 80,000 people. In the 2006 census for the Republic, 85,000 people reported using Irish as a daily language outside of the education system, and 1.2 million reported using it at least occasionally in or out of school.

In the 2011 Census, these numbers had increased to 94,000 and 1.3 million, respectively. There are also thousands of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland, and a comparable number of fluent speakers in the United States and Canada Historically the island of Newfoundland had a dialect of Irish Gaelic, called Newfoundland Irish.” Source

JLeslie's avatar

I think most people use the term Gaelic.

Looks like @gailcalled gave you some stats. I had work colleague in America who spoke Gaelic. She was Irish, but had been here for many years.

gailcalled's avatar

“Gaelic” can refer to either the Scottish Gaelic language, or the Irish Gaelic language.

“Irish Gaelic is more specific than “Gaelic”.”

It refers specifically to the Irish language.

This term is not used within Ireland, but it’s a good compromise if you’re speaking with people who might not know that “Irish” is a language.”


JLeslie's avatar

Interesting. The woman I knew just said she spoke Gaelic with her family. I do realize there is Irish and Scottish, but since she was Irish I assumed Irish.

gailcalled's avatar

Per the 2011 census of Ireland:

Of the 1.77 million who indicated they could speak Irish, 77,185 said they speak it daily outside the education system. A further 110,642 said they spoke it weekly, while 613,236 said they spoke it less often. One in four said they never spoke Irish.

The numbers speaking Irish on a daily basis outside the education system increased by 5,037 persons since 2006 from 72,148 to 77,185; the numbers speaking weekly showed an increase of 7,781 persons, while those speaking Irish less often showed the largest increase of 27,139

The above text is a direct quote from page 12 of the “This is Ireland” report produced by the Central Statistics Office of Ireland on 29 March 2012. Source

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I believe that Irish is taught in elementary schools and is a mandatory subject.

flutherother's avatar

The Gaeltacht is where Irish is the predominant language but it is tending to wither away.

flutherother's avatar

This quote from Wikipedia sums things up quite nicely:
“The Permanent North American Gaeltacht is an area near Erinsville, Ontario in Canada which has been designated a permanent Gaeltacht area although nobody lives there.”

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ I can’t help but laugh.

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