Language and Languages

IRISH also called ERSE, OR GAELIC, Irish Gaeilge, a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages, spoken in Ireland. As one of the national languages of the Republic of Ireland, Irish is taught in the public schools and is required for certain civil-service posts.

Grammatically, Irish still has a case system, like Latin or German, with four cases to show differing functions of nouns and pronouns in a sentence. In phonology it exhibits initial sandhi, in which the first consonant of a word is modified according to the prehistoric final sound of the previous word in the phrase (e.g., an tobar "the well," mo thobar "my well").

Records in the Irish language date back to the ogham inscriptions, written in sets of strokes or notches, of the 5th century AD; the Latin alphabet began to be used shortly thereafter. Irish literature dates from the 8th century.

Irish Genealogical Records

While the native language in Ireland is Gaelic, most records are recorded in English. It is not necessary to know Gaelic to conduct research in Ireland but it is helpful to understand a bit about the language. It is also helpful to understand a bit about Latin since many Catholic records were recorded in Latin in the early 17th century. Government records were recorded in Latin until 1733 and some catholic church records were written in Latin well into the 19th century.

Some Problems with Irish Records

One problem with Irish records research is that spelling is often recorded phonetically, which can be difficult to read. Family and place names were often written phonetically because people didn't have a understanding of how the name should be spelled. Often given names were abbreviated - making the task of deciphering names even harder.

Handwriting is another issue to records research. Many records were recorded in a way that is no longer used -- styles have changed over the centuries. However, handwriting becomes easier to read the longer you practice looking at it.



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