What do we know about Ireland apart from its Gaelic kilts, enthusiastic sports culture and Irish pubs? Did you know about its iconic Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations with all the green costumes and the lucky four-leaf clovers? Or have you heard of its famous folklore filled with tales of the Irish Leprechaun? Well, let’s learn a fact or two about this marvellous culture, of a country tucked to the west of the United Kingdom.
Irish – what’s that?
Irish or Gaelic Irish is the language spoken in Ireland – by precisely 3% of the population there as a first language!
Irish used to be the only language spoken in the Republic until the 17th century, but there has been a sharp decline in the number of speakers since, owing to the dominance of English and emigration.
Irish is sometimes referred to as Gaelic, Gaelic Irish, or Erse, but in Ireland it is simply called Irish. It has evolved from the language brought to the island in the Celtic migrations between the sixth and the second century BCE.
Tracing back the links
Irish culture shares a significant number of traits with those of Britain, other neighbouring English-speaking countries and other Celtic nations, and this reflects in its language and terminology as well.
For hundreds of years, the Irish people leaving Ireland have always been higher than those immigrating to Ireland. Yet, the Irish national culture is relatively homogeneous as compared to other multicultural countries, and is highly influenced by Anglo-Norman, English and Scottish cultures.
What else do we know about their culture?
Popular culture, customs and traditions in Ireland are very similar to many other Western countries in terms of cinema, TV, language, music, art, literature, folklore, cuisine and of course, sports.
However, one aspect of popular culture in Ireland that really makes it unique is its pub culture. Did you know that the Irish per-capita consumption of beer is the second-highest in the world?
Trivia for the day!
Who knew that the term ‘Halloween’ is actually a shortened version of the term ‘All-Hallows-Eve’? According to some historians, it has its roots in the Gaelic festival Samhain, where it was believed that the border between this world and the other world became thin enough for the dead to revisit the mortal world.
Consequently, mass trans-atlantic Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century popularised Halloween in North America. But good to know that this is where it originated from, right?