English Usage: Ireland
English is the dominant language in Ireland, with over 90% of the population speaking it as their main language. Below is an overview of the findings.
Republic of Ireland
- English and Irish are the official languages of Ireland; however, English is the dominant language, with 94% of the population speaking the language.
- Government communication is usually offered in both languages after the Language Act of 2003. That being said, 64% of press releases between 2016 and 2018 were issued in English only (the rest was bilingual).
- Other government publications in English only are reports with limited circulation aimed at specialist groups, all other publications are available in both languages. No official government communication is released in Irish only.
- The most recent census showed that about 39.8% of the population can speak Irish, still, only 4.2% used it daily outside of the education system. Of the 39.8% that can speak the language, 23.8% never speak Irish.
- That is not to say that Irish is a dead language; the introduction of the Official Languages Act and the recognition of Irish as an official working language in the EU have created a surge in the interest for Irish courses, probably related to the availability of well-paid translation jobs.
- English is the language most commonly used in business meetings (especially outside of Gaeltacht); however, the language is rarely free of local dialects and accents.
- A look into Ad World Ireland shows that English is the language of advertising in Ireland, and several examples of this can be found here.
- English is also the dominant language in Northern Ireland, with almost 97% of the population using it as their main language, according to the most recent census.
- As for Irish, 10.7% of the population over the age of 3 have some level of knowledge about the language and 6% spoke or could speak Irish.
- Language has been a source of conflict in Northern Ireland and it is a pain point between Northern Ireland and the British government and between politicians in the country.
Because English is the dominant language in Ireland, there isn’t a lot of information and hard data regarding its use. We scoured through several news articles, databases, and government publications, but the information was still sparse, probably because it’s considered a normal factor.
Most of the conversation surrounding language in Ireland is regarding political and nationalism aspects of its use and it wouldn’t be relevant to this request. That being said, there are current efforts to maintain and reinforce the Irish language, but these efforts don’t seem to reach the business sphere, being most commonly discussed for government and, to a degree, for media publications. This discussion is also most prevalent in Northern Ireland as a reflection of it still being part of the U.K., as opposed to the Republic of Ireland.
To ensure that media is predominantly in English, besides checking the adverts, we also checked newspapers such as The Irish News, Independent, Irish Times, among others, all were presented in English. We also looked for the option to see the news in Irish, but the option is not available, at least not for non-subscribers. We also checked RTÉ, the largest TV network in Ireland and their content is also in English.