Ireland has two official languages: English and Gaelige (Irish Gaelic), commonly referred to simply as Irish. The Constitution recognizes Irish as the national language and English as the second official language. About a quarter of the population know enough Irish to use it in everyday conversation, and about 1% use it as their main language. The Irish-speaking parts of the country are known as the Gaeltacht.

 Gaelic was the country's main language for more than 2,000 years. In the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Protestant Reformation in England, the British persecuted Irish Catholics. Speaking and teaching Irish Gaelic were outlawed. As a result, the English language dominated. By 1850, less than a quarter of the Irish population could speak the country's native language. 

  Did you know?
Irish words that have entered the English language include banshee, galore, bother, smithereen, hooligan, tantrum and donnybrook.
In the 19th century, the Irish language became a symbol of Irish independence. In 1893 Douglas Hyde and Eoin McNeill founded the Gaelic League to promote the use of Irish Gaelic. By the early 20th century, poets were writing in Irish and children were studying Irish in schools. 

Today, Irish Gaelic is taught in all schools and it is a compulsory subject on the Leaving Certificate Examination. Some students attend schools in which the whole curriculum is taught in Irish. All government documents are published in both English and Irish. Ireland also has an Irish radio service, Radio na Gaeltachta, and an Irish television channel, Telifis na Gaeilge.

  English Irish
  Good day   Dia duit!
  Good day (reply)   Dia's muire duit
  How are you?    Conas atá tú?
  I am very well   Tá  mé go maith
  Thank you    Go raibh maigh agat
  You are welcome    Tá  fáilte romhat
  Excuse me   Gabh mo leithsceal
  Cheers/to your health   Sláinte
  Good luck   Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat
  Goodbye    Slán
  Ireland    Eire
  Did you know?
Rather than saying "goodbye," an Irish person may say "safe home." Another common expression is "God bless the work," a greeting used when entering the company of a person who is working. When the Irish say "great craic" (pronounced "crack"), they mean they are having fun.