Ten Facts About St Patrick’s Day and the Irish Language

Sona Lá Fhéile Pádraig! Happy St Patrick’s Day! St Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually around the world on March 17.  The day honors the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick and it is known as one of the more raucous national holidays of the year with over 33 million people participating in parties and festivities all over the world. One of Welocalize’s main global offices is located in Dublin, at the heart of the European localization industry. Our lively Dublin office supports many global Welocalize clients and provides a central meeting point for many localization events.

To mark this national and international day, here are some facts about St Patrick’s day and the Irish language:

#1: Irish Gaelic is recognized as the official first language of the Republic of Ireland. Irish Gaelic is a Celtic language, spoken by over 140,000 people as a first language and 1 million as a second language. It is an Indo-European language and evolved from the earliest languages spoken in the middle east.

#2: Irish is a language without words for ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ Questions are answered with the verb. For example:
An dtuigeann tú? – Do you understand?
Tuigim – I understand
Ni thuigim – I don’t understand

#3: St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, although he was born in Britain around 385AD.

#4: As a boy of 14, he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery, herding sheep. In his 30s, he returned to Ireland as a missionary and is believed to be the founder of Christianity in Ireland. It is believed he died on
March 17 in 461AD.

#5: The Irish language uses the Latin alphabet but it doesn’t use all the letters. J, k, q, v, w, x, y and z are left out. However, you will see these letters appear in modern Irish words as spelling rules change as new words emerge.

#6: Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle and many people wear green and eat green food on March 17. Cabbage shipments to the U.S. increase by 70% during the week of March 17!

#7: In Irish, words for numbers depend on whether you’re counting humans or non-humans. For example, ‘seven men’ is ‘seachtar fear’ but ‘seven dogs’ is ‘seacht madrai.’

#8: For word order, Irish is a verb/subject/object language. English is a subject/verb/object language. For example, in this simple English sentence, ‘Emma buys bread,’ the word order in Irish would be ‘Buys Emma bread.’

#9: St Patrick’s Day has always been a time when many Americans acknowledge their Irish roots, celebrating Irish culture in a variety of ways. Over 34 million modern Americans claim Irish ancestry.

One of the most popular Irish toasts on St Patrick’s day that will accompany the many raised glasses of Guinness and beer consumed on March 17 includes “May the roof above us never fall in and may we friends beneath it never fall out.”

Friday, March 17 2017 is a national holiday in Ireland and the Welocalize Dublin offices will be closed on that day. It is also a national holiday on the Island of Montserrat in Caribbean and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

We would like to wish health and happiness to all our staff, colleagues and clients celebrating St Patrick’s Day this year!