Skip to main content

Key Difference – Irish vs Gaelic

Irish and Gaelic are two native languages used in the Northern Europe. Gaelic is a Celtic language, which is categorised into three languages known as Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Irish Gaelic is also known as Irish, and is the official and national language of Ireland. Irish is a Gaelic language. This is the key difference between Irish and Gaelic.

What is Gaelic?

Gaelic, also known as Goidelic, is one of the two groups of Insular Celtic languages. In contemporary usage, Gaelic refers to either the Scottish Gaelic language, or the Irish Gaelic language. Manx, which also belonged to this group, died out in the 20th century. Irish Gaelic actually refers to the Irish language.

Irish and Scottish are somewhat similar; an Irish speaker may be able to understand some Scottish Gaelic.

Given below are some words and phrases in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. You can observe the differences and similarities between them.

English Equivalent Irish Scottish
Welcome Fáilte Fàilte
Good Morning Maidin mhaith Madainn mhath
One aon aon
Four ceathair ceithir
Good night Oíche mhaith Oidhche mhath
Good day Lá maith Latha math
Difference Between Irish and  Gaelic

Distribution of Scottish Gaelic speakers according to 2001 census.

What is Irish?

The Irish language is the Celtic language of Ireland. It is also known as Irish Gaelic. It is the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland, and is also officially recognized as an official minority language in Northern Ireland. It is also an official language of the European Union. However, it is spoken as a first language by a small minority of Irish people although the number of second language speakers consists of a rather large group.

Irish has the oldest vernacular literature in the Northern Europe. The promotion of the Irish language is taken care of by the public body Foras na Gaeilge.

Although Irish enjoys the position of the first official language in the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland, most of the government bodies and people use English as their everyday language. There are some parts of the country where Irish is still used to some extent as the first language. These regions are individually and collectively known as Gaeltacht.

Key Difference -  Irish vs   Gaelic

Gaeltacht areas of Ireland

What is the difference between Irish and Gaelic?

Language Family:

Irish is a Gaelic language.

Gaelic is one of the two groups of Insular Celtic languages.


Irish is also known as Irish Gaelic.

Gaelic is categorised into the Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic or Manx.


Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland.

Gaelic is used in Ireland and Scotland.

 Image Courtesy: 

“Scots Gaelic speakers in the 2011 census” By SkateTier – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Gaeltacht” By Angr – Own work, based on data from and Base map is Image:Blank Ireland.png (CC BY 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia