01In the 1991 census, in the areas where Irish remains the vernacular, and which are officially defined as the Gaeltacht, there were 56,469 Irish-speakers.
02The Irish diaspora (Irish: Diaspóra na nGael) refers to Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and states of the Caribbean and continental Europe. The diaspora, maximally interpreted, contains more than 100 million people, which is more than fifteen times the population of the whole island of Ireland, which had approximately 6.4 million in 2011. There are estimated to be approximately 2 million speakers of Irish in total (as mother tongue or second language).
03In the Irish language the beginning of the word changes depending on the grammatical environment. The word for "woman" can either be "bean" (byan), "bhean" (vyan), or "mbean" (myan), depending whether it comes after certain possessive pronouns (my, your, his), certain prepositions (under, before, on), numbers, or a whole range of other conditions that determine which form of the word is correct. Whereas most languages require different word endings, Irish requires both: beginnings and endings.
04There are no words for "yes" or "no" in Irish, but that doesn't mean there's no way to answer a question. You communicate "yes" and "no" with a verb form. The answer to "did they sell the house?" would be "(they) sold " or "(they) didn't sell." In Irish:
Ar dhíol siad an teach?
05The name of the language is "Irish." “Gaeilge” is the name of the language in Irish, and Irish is the name of the language in English. Sometimes people also say Irish Gaelic to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, a related but distinct language.
06The words for numbers depend on whether you're counting humans or non-humans.
In addition to one set of numbers for doing arithmetic or referring to dates and times, Irish has a second set for counting humans and a third set for counting non-humans. Five children is "cúigear páiste," but five horses is "cúig chapall."
07Its word order is Verb Subject Object.
Sentences have Verb Subject Object order. So "I saw a bird" would be "Saw I a bird." "I always speak Irish" would be "Speak I Irish always." This word order is relatively rare—only 9 percent of the world's languages use it.
08Irish is spoken in many different ways in Ireland. The Gaeilge spoken in Cork for example is quite different to the Gaeilge spoken in Donegal! And the Gaeilge in Conamara is very different to the Gaeilge spoken in Kerry!
09Foras na Gaeilge is a public body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island of Ireland. It serves an advisory role in matters pertaining to the Irish language in both the public and private sectors in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (where Irish is a regional language). It also creates terminology to add to the Irish language.
What does Irish sound like? Listen to an Irish radio station here