Goidelic is one of two major divisions of modern-day Celtic languages (the
other being Brythonic). It is also known as Gaelic, or Q-Celtic because of
the way that words in Brythonic that begin with "B" or "P" begin with "C"
or "K" in Gaelic languages.
Only three Goidelic languages survived into modern times: Irish Gaelic,
Scots Gaelic, and Manx Gaelic. Goidelic languages were once restricted to
Ireland, but in the 6th century Irish colonists and invaders began
migrating to Scotland and eventually assimilated the Brythonic language
speakers who lived there. Manx, the former common language of the Isle of
Man, is descended from the Gaelic spoken in north east Ireland and the now
extinct Gaelic of Galloway (Scotland), with heavy influence from Old Norse
because of the Viking invasions. Goidelic languages may once have been
common on the Atlanic coast of Europe and there is some evidence that they
were spoken in the region of Galicia in modern Spain.
Irish Gaelic, (known as 'Irish', formerly 'Erse'), is one of Ireland's two
official languages and is still fairly widely spoken in the west of
Ireland. The legally defined Irish-speaking areas are called the Gaeltacht.
At present, Irish is primarily spoken in Counties Cork, Donegal, Mayo,
Galway, Kerry and, to a lesser extent, in Waterford and Meath. Irish
Gaelic is also spoken by a few people in Northern Ireland and has been
accorded some legal status there under the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
Some people in the north and west of Scotland and the Hebrides still speak
Scots Gaelic (also known as Gàidhlig), but because of its minimal official
recognition and because of large-scale emigration from those parts of
Scotland, the language appears to be in decline. There are now believed to
be approximately 1,000 native speakers of Scots Gaelic in Nova Scotia and
60,000 in Scotland. Manx is virtually extinct, although attempts to revive
All the other living Celtic languages belong to the Brythonic branch of
Celtic, which includes Welsh,
Breton, and Cornish.