From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
approx. 400,000 or more
|Regions with significant populations|
|Republic of Ireland:
Isle of Man:
500 - 1000
|Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx,English|
|Catholicism, Protestantism(Mainly Presbyterian)|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Gaels are an ethno-linguistic group which spread from Ireland to Scotland and the Isle of Man. Their language is of the Gaelic (Goidelic) family, a division of Insular Celtic languages. The word in English was adopted in 1810 from Scottish Gaelic Gaidheal (compare Irish Gaedhealg and Old Irish Goídeleg) to designate a Highlander (OED). Gael or Goídeleg was first used as a collective term to describe people from Ireland; it is thought to have come from Welsh Gwyddel (Old Welsh Goídel), originally "raider", now "Irish person".
 Mythological origin
The Gaels, during the beginning of the Christian era (at which time Gaelic people were mostly restricted to Ireland), believed themselves to be descendants of the Milesians (Lebor Gabala Eirinn or the Irish Book of Invasions - the sons of Míl Espáine) coming from the north of Iberia, mainly Gallaecia (modern Galicia and northern Portugal), where there existed also an early form of Ogham script. This belief persists in the Gaelic cultures of Ireland and Scotland up to the present day, with many if not most clan leaders in either country claiming descent from their predecessor, back to famous historical kings going back into pre-history. Much of this is covered in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, which catalogues the path of the Gaels' ancestors in a way that, while mostly mythic, may be an embellished account of actual historical events. Discovery of a form of early Ogham script in Gallaecia, as well as genetic studies linking the Gaels to the Basques in northeastern Spain, lends credence to such a theory.
 Historical expansion
It is not known with any certainty when speakers of a Goidelic (or Q-Celtic) language reached Ireland, or how they came to be the dominant culture, or if Q-Celtic didn't develop entirely in Ireland from a previous dialect. Some believe Goidelic replaced some pre-existing Brythonic (or P-Celtic) language(s), but it is not known whether this represents one population displacing others, an invader becoming a new ruling caste, or simply the spread of a new lingua franca. Before and during the age of the Roman Empire there was a great deal of movement, interaction and competition among the peoples referred to collectively as the Celts; Iron Age Europe can perhaps be best understood as a cultural foment.
Estimates of the arrival of proto-Gaelic in Ireland vary widely from the introduction of agriculture circa 4000 BC to around the first few centuries BC. Little can be said with certainty, as the language now known as Old Irish, ancestral to modern Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx, only began to be properly recorded with the Christianization of Ireland in about the 5th Century AD. (It is believed that pre-Christian Celtic culture disparaged written language.) However, Old Irish — or more correctly, its precursor Primitive Irish — does appear in a specialized written form, using a unique script known as Ogham. This is known to us now almost only in the form of messages on pillar-like stone monuments. Ogham stones are found both throughout Ireland and where Gaelic invaders settled across post-Roman Britain. They frequently encode nothing more than a name, and it is thought they may represent territorial claims.
Starting sometime around the 5th century Gaelic language and culture spread from Ireland to the southwest coast of Scotland where it may have already existed since Roman times. Uncertainty over this comes as a result of the fact that there is disputed archaeological evidence to support the generally accepted tale of migration while there is some to suggest that there was none — the evidence also points to the population of the area (modern day Argyll) being constant during the time of the alleged Scottish invasion. This area was known as Dál Riata. The Gaels soon spread out to most of the rest of the country. Culturo-linguistic dominance in the area eventually led to the Latin name for Gaelic speaking peoples, "Scoti", being applied to the state founded by the Gaels, Scotland (Alba in Gaelic). Since that time Gaelic language rose and, in the past three centuries, greatly diminished, in most of Ireland and Scotland. The most culturally and linguistically Gaelic regions are in the north west of Scotland, the west of Ireland and Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia where the descendants of the Highland Clearances were transplanted.
The Isle of Man (Manx Gaelic Ellan Vannin, "Mannin's Isle", from the pre-Christian deity known as Manannan Mac Lír) also came under massive Gaelic influence in its history. The last native speaker of Manx died in the 1970s, but the language never really died out. There is now a resurgent language movement and Manx is once again taught in all schools as a second language and in some as a first language. A large part of the island's cultural heritage is Gaelic.
On account of their myths, Robert Graves believed they were matrilineal pre-Indo-Europeans that had accepted a patriarchal male Indo-European aristocracy, incorporated through marriage to their Queen-Priestesses. From the genetic evidence gathered sixty years after Graves formulated that theory, J.F. del Giorgio corroborated it in The Oldest Europeans, pointing that from genes and language and the surprising high status of their women, is obvious that a majority of peoples who were in Europe since the Paleolithic, blended with a minority of incomers during the Neolithic, modifying their rituals and traditions, and accepting most of their language.
 Current distribution
The two comparatively 'major' Gaelic nations in the modern era are Scotland, which has a population of roughly between 60,000 and 90,000 Gaels, and Ireland which has over 200,000 or more. Communities where the language is still spoken natively are restricted largely to the west coast of each country and especially the Hebrides in Scotland. However, large proportions of Gaelic speakers also live in the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland as well as Galway, Cork and Dublin in Ireland. There are between 500 - 1,000 Canadian Gaels although they are generally of a very advanced age and concentrated in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. According to the PDF, there are about 25,000 Irish Gaels in the United States with the majority found in urban areas with large Irish-American communities such as Boston, New York City and Chicago.
 Famous Gaels
- Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, King of Meath and High King of Ireland, 988-1002 and 1014-1022 - took Dublin from the Norse in 988 (which is thus taken as the founding date of Dublin); reign interrupted by Brian Boru, 1002-1014
- Brian Boru - King of Munster and High King of Ireland, killed 1014
- Edward Bruce – Scottish resistance leader and eventually High King of Ireland; the younger brother of Robert the Bruce.
- Robert the Bruce - King of Scotland with mixed Norman and Gaelic heritage
- George Buchannan - humanist and historian
- St. Columba The Gaelic monk credited with introducing Christianity to Scotland.
- Rob Donn 18th century Scottish Gaelic poet often referred to as ‘Rob Donn MacAoidh.’
- Piaras Feiritéar – Irish language poet
- George Campbell Hay – 20th century Scottish poet, nationalist and translator who translated poetry from many languages into Scottish Gaelic under the patronymic Deòrsa Mac Iain Deòrsa.
- Enda Kenny - Irish politician. Leader of Fine Gael
- Iain Lom – 17th century Scottish Gaelic political poet of the clan MacDonald and an early Jacobite
- Cináed mac Ailpín – Often anglicized as Kenneth I of Scotland. Traditionally considered the first, founding king of Scotland.
- Macbeth of Scotland – high king of Scotland, immortalized in the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare
- Donald Caskie - Church of Scotland minister who earned the name "Tartan Pimpernel" for his exploits in occupied France during World War II which saw him allow some 2,000 allied soldiers to escape.
- Alasdair MacColla famous Scottish soldier during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms commemorated in the poetry of Iain Lom
- Áedán mac Gabráin – Scottish king of Dál Riata
- Iain Mac a’Ghobhainn (Iain Crichton Smith) – 20th century Scottish man of letters who wrote both poetry and prose in Scottish Gaelic.
- Rob Roy MacGregor the anglicized version of the Scottish Gaelic Raibeart Ruadh, the famous highland outlaw often regarded as a Scottish equivalent of Robin Hood
- Sorley MacLean –highly influential 20th century Scottish Gaelic poet. Alternatively referred to as Somhairle MacGill-Eain
- Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair –18th century Scottish Gaelic poet and lexicographer; Compiler of the first Scottish Gaelic/English Vocabulary.
- Dermot MacMurrough - Irish King of Leinster
- James MacPherson Scottish poet and Gaelic scholar, known as the "translator" of the Ossian cycle of poems.
- Anne MacKenzie - award winning broadcast journalist and political analyst.
- Echmarcach mac Ragnaill - King of Dublin, ruler of the Irish Sea, died after 1061
- Maelruanaidh Mor mac Tadg - founder of the kingdom of Moylurg, fl. 956
- Ruaidri mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair – often anglicized as Rory O’Connor; king of Connacht and High King of Ireland
- Sir John A. MacDonald - Speaker of Scots Gaelic and first prime minister of Canada.
- Ned Maddrell – Purportedly the last native speaker of Manx Gaelic
- Martin Martin - 17th century Scottish writer raised in the Gàidhealtachd. His description of the western Isles of Scotland provided the standard source material for writers such as Dr. Johnson
- Brian Merriman – Irish language poet and author of Cúirt An Mheán Oíche or 'The Midnight Court'
- Máire Mhac an tSaoi – Modern Irish language poet and wife of the Catholic Unionist Conor Cruise O'Brien
- Karen Matheson – Scottish Gaelic singer. Member of the band Capercaillie
- John Munro – Scottish war poet who wrote in Scottish Gaelic under the pseudonymn of ‘Iain Rothach’ during World War I
- William Neill –Modern Scottish poet from Ayrshire whose works are written in Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Lowland Scots.
- Niall of the Nine Hostages - ancestor of many Irish dynasties; died c.450/455
- Eithne ní Bhraonáin (Enya) – Irish Singer/Songwriter
- Máire Ní Bhraonáin – Irish Musician and song writer. Member of the band Clannad
- Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh – Irish fidler and vocalist. Member of the band Altan
- Pól Ó Braonáin – Irish musician. Member of Clannad
- Dáibhí Ó Bruadair – Bardic poet
- Éamon Ó Cuív – Irish Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs
- Máirtín Ó Direáin - modern Irish language poet
- Liam O'Flaherty – Irish novelist and shortstory writer born and raised in the Aran Islands of the Galway Gaeltachtaí
- Proinsias Ó Maonaigh – Irish musician
- Rory O'More - leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641
- Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh – Irish Gaelic Athletic Association commentator for the Radio Telifís Éireann and a native speaker of Irish
- Aodh Mór Ó Néill – Earl of Tyrone and Irish resistance leader. Often anlgicized as Hugh O’Niell
- Fiach Mac Aodh Ó Broin - popularly referred to as Fiach McHugh O'Byrne, a 16th century Gaelic (Irish) Chieftain, Irish Resistance leader who defeated a large English force at the Battle of Glenmalure (County Wicklow) in 1580 A.D. - a mighty Irish victory remembered in the Wicklow ballad 'Follow me up to Carlow'. After massacring the English forces of the crown, the Wicklow rebels fled temporarily to occupied Carlow, fearing immediate retribution, before returning soon after to the Wicklow mountains, which continued to hold out from English occupation for a further 20 years, when in 1606 the area as we know it today was made a county.
- Phelim O'Neill - leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and kinsman of Owen Roe O'Neill
- Owen Roe O'Neill - the anglicised version of Eoghan Rua Ó Néill; the early Irish nationalist and a major player during the Irish Confederate Wars
- Antoine Ó Raifteiri - Irish language folk poet of the 19th century
- Aogán Ó Rathaille - Irish language poet of the aisling genre
- Cathal Ó Searcaigh – modern Irish language poet.
 See also
- Irish Gaelic
- Scottish Gaelic
- Manx Gaelic
- Scottish Gaelic in Canada
- Newfoundland Irish
- Isle of Man
- Gaelic clothing and fashion
- Gaelic warfare
- Scotland in the High Middle Ages
- Hiberno-Scottish mission
- ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=gle
- ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=gle
- ^ http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/culture/glbc-03.asp
- ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/14/show_language.asp?code=MJD
- ^ Statistics Canada 2001 Census
 External links
- Aberdeen University Celtic Department Information and courses on all aspects of Celts, Gaels and related peoples, languages and cultures
- Iomairt Cholm Cille ( The Columban Institute ) An institute with the aim of promoting links between Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers.
- DNA shows Scots and Irish should look to Spain for their ancestry
- Celts descended from Iberian fishermen, study finds
|British Census: White British|
|Native inhabitants||Anglo-Irish • Brython • Cornish • English • Gael • Irish/Irish Traveller • Scottish • Welsh|
|Immigrants||Australian • French • German/German-Briton • Greek • Italian • Spanish • Polish • Russian|