The history of Ireland
and the Irish language
1000 B.C. – 1850 A.D.
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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We start in the late
Bronze Age
1200 B.C. – 800 B.C.
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A considerable wealth of
bronze and gold is
present, an example of
which is the great Clare
gold hoard
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
A ring fort near Leacanabuaile
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
A burial monument
(“dolmen”) near Poulnabrone
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Ca. 700 B.C., the Celts arrived from parts of
Spain, Gaul and Britain
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they brought the “Iron Age” to Ireland
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Under the Celtic influence, Ireland was
organized into a number of petty kingdoms, or
clans
There were no urban centres, and the economic
basis of society was cattle rearing and agriculture
The dwellings were built by the post-and-wattle
technique
Some were situated within the older protected
sites archaeologists call “ring forts”
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Irish as one of the oldest Celtic and historic
written languages of the British Isles and Ireland
has its earliest evidence preserved in OGHAM
inscriptions
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There are dated from the 2nd to the 6th
century A.D.
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Since ca. 430 A.D.
expansion of Christianity
Traditions in the south
and southeast refer to
early saints who allegedly
preceded St. Patrick
 St. Patrick converted all the
Irish to Christianity and got
the status of national apostle
 feast day March 17
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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The Irish monasteries became notable centres of
learning and devotion
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Irish scribes produced manuscripts written in the clear
hand known as “Insular Minuscule”
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Traditional Latin alphabet was adapted for the native
language
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It is still used on road signs and public notices
throughout Ireland
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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The early Irish Church was strongly influenced by the
Brittonic (or Welsh) Church
Through this medium Irish came into contact with
the classical languages
Brittonic/Welsh Loans from Latin and Greek (through Latin)
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Massive phonological changes between the 5th and
6th centuries
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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ca 500 A.D.
predominace of five
tribal kingdoms (Ulster,
Munster, Connacht,
Leinster, Meath)
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Meath was eventuelly
absorbed into Leinster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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ca 500 A.D., five tribal
kingdoms (Ulster,
Munster, Connacht,
Leinster, Meath)
Munster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language

ca 500 A.D., five tribal
kingdoms (Ulster,
Munster, Connacht,
Leinster, Meath)
Ulster
Munster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language

ca 500 A.D., five tribal
kingdoms (Ulster,
Munster, Connacht,
Leinster, Meath)
Ulster
Connacht
Munster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language

ca 500 A.D., five tribal
kingdoms (Ulster,
Munster, Connacht,
Leinster, Meath)
Ulster
Connacht
Leinster
Munster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
Ulster Munster
The flags of
the 4
provinces
Connacht
Leinster
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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7th – 9th century, period of “Old Irish” literacy
Well represented in a large number of textual
genres, as well as glosses (explanations) and
marginalia (notes on the margin of manuscript
texts)
It is the time with the widest geographical
spread of Irish speech in Ireland
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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High kings ruled in Ireland but “with
opposition,” meaning that they were not
acknowledged by a minority of provincial kings
The fact that power had been preserved at a
local level in Ireland enabled a maximum of
resistance to be made (“decentralisation”)
Viking invaders established maritime
strongholds (8th century)
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
Viking contacts: the result was
lexical borrowing esp. seafaring
 23.04.1014 Battle of Clontarf
(outside Dublin)
 Munster vs. Leinster
 Munster won with much
slaughter on both sides
 Vikings lost their influence
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The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Anglo-Norman invasion took place (1169 A.D.)
Far-reaching political changes inspired the Irish
literati to undertake a new standardization of
their language
From the beginning of the 13th century, there
was a rigidly fixed written norm, often called
Classical Modern Irish, which was used as the
exclusive literary medium in Ireland and in
Gaelic-speaking Scotland for over four centuries
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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The Anglo-Norman Invasion led to a ninecentury-long series of adstratum contacts
between Irish and English
This included massive lexical borrowings and
also syntactic, morphological and phonological
modifications
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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1264 A.D., the first Irish parliament was set up
Anglo-Norman control was strengthened by the
creation of three new Anglo-Irish earldoms
Kildare, given to the head of the Leinster
Fitzgeralds
that of Desmond, given to the head of the
Munster Fitzgeralds
and that of Ormond, given to the head of the
Butlers, around Tipperary
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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15th – 16th century linguistic borrowings of
popular nature (card-playing terminology) from
the continent (mostly French)
1558 Elizabeth became Queen of England
Her Irish policy had the distinction of having
reduced the country to obedience for the first
time since the invasion of Henry II (1169)
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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1601 The Battle of Kinsale
The Irish and the supporting
Spaniards were defeated by the
English (Lord Mountjoy)
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The 1000 years old highliterary tradition of Irish
collapsed
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The Irish standardised
written language was washed
away
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The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Irish continued as the language of the greater
part of the rural population and, for a time, of
the servant classes in town
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A general rebellion of the Irish in Ulster was
inevitable. It took place in October 1641; and
thousands of colonists were murdered or fled
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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1642 – Gaelic Irish, “Old English” and royal
English settlers founded the Confederation of
Kilkenny aspiring a Catholic royalistic Ireland
in 1720 the Declaratory Act affirmed the right
of the British Parliament to legislate for Ireland
and transferred the powers of a supreme court
in Irish law cases to the British House of Lords
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
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Official national flag in the 18th
century
1801 · Ireland gets united with Great
Britain to the Unitded Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
(Act of Union”)
The history of Ireland and the Irish
language
1.000.000 catholics died
of starvation in The Great
Potato Famine (1846-1849)
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Map shows Percent
Change by County from
1841 - 1851
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The history of Ireland and the Irish language