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    History of Irish

Time Period Language
4c Primitive Old Irish Written remains of the language are not yet available. This is the period of Christianisation in Ireland (in 432 by St. Patrick according to tradition). The early Celtic Christian church is particularly strong in Ireland and Scotland.
6c Early Old Irish This stage is attested in Ogam inscriptions (standing stones with personal names etched on the edge in a particular script).
7c Old Irish Documented in glosses to religious works found in monasteries in continental countries like Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
9c Middle Irish Available in legal texts, sagas as well as in works of literature contained in famous manuscript collections. Viking settlements are established in Ireland.
800- Old Irish Linguistic influence is seen in borrowings from Old Norse.
1169 Old/Middle Irish Coming of the Normans (military conquest). Introduction of Norman French to Ireland; English speakers came in the retinue of the Norman lords.
12c Early Modern Irish An increasingly fossilised form of language is found in praise poetry and emulations of older literary styles.
16c Modern Irish Dialectal divisions become obvious (North-West, West, South-West). Appearance of regional differences in writing. Separation of Scottish Gaelic and Manx is complete.
1601 Modern Irish Irish and Spanish forces are defeated at Kinsale, Co. Cork. During the 17th century a vigorous policy of plantation is pursued, chiefly by Cromwell in the late 1640’s and early 1650’s. This led to a concentration of Irish speakers in the poorer regions of the west of the country. Speakers from Ulster are also settled in north Connacht.
early 19c Late Modern Irish Rapid decline of the Irish language sets in despite Catholic Emancipation in 1829.
1845-8 Late Modern Irish Potato famine occurs, affecting the poorer, mostly Irish-speaking areas.
late 19c Late Modern Irish Decline is furthered by mass emigration. About 1 million speakers die and a further million emigrate in the ensuing exodus from the countryside.
1850- Late Modern Irish Irish-speaking areas are no longer geographically contiguous
20c/21c Late Modern Irish Present-day Irish is spoken natively in areas which have been reduced greatly in size. There are now three main regions (Donegal, Connemara, Kerry with remnants in West Cork and South-West County Waterford) with at most 50,000 native speakers left. However, there is a greater number of non-native speakers, with varying degrees of competence in the language, and a certain revival is taking place in large urban centres, notably Dublin and Belfast.