Irish Language and Poetry

The Irish language is inseparable from the Irish poetic tradition.  Irish is the oldest vernacular language alive in all of Europe, and the Irish bards were composing their poetry before the coming of Christ.  Although the English government, the trauma of the Great Famine, and emigration have all contributed to the decline of Irish, it is still a thriving language in many parts of Ireland today (the Gaeltacht or Gaelic-speaking regions).  Indeed, many contemporary Irish poets, such as Nuala niDhomnaill, still compose poetry in Irish today.  The two links below give a taste of the importance of Irish language and poetry.  Listen to Tomas O'Criomthain's The Islandman being read in the ruins of Tomas's house on the Great Blasket Island; or listen to the great 17th-century Irish poem, Cill Chais, being read in the original Irish.

Tomas O'Criomthain's The Islandman Cill Chais