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by NWagner - (2018-01-24)
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The celts

The Celts were well established in Ireland a century before Christ, and they dominated the island for nearly a thousand years, resisting challenges and absorbing influences from other cultures for many centuries more.

The term Celtic denotes a group of Indo-European languages. Before 500 B.C. the Celts had come to be known in an area comprising Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Bohemia. The Greeks called them Keltoi and the Romans Galli.

The Celts were not the first inhabitants of Ireland. They lived a primitive existence by hunting in the forests and streams and lakes. Next came the first farmers who used stone implements for felling trees and preparing the soil for grain, they also kept large quantities of cattle, sheep and pigs. Perhaps by 2,000 B.C. a new group of settlers had arrived, metalworkers in search of gold and copper. These were the dominant people in Ireland in the late Bronze Age when the Celts arrived.

The Celts had the advantage of having weapons made of iron.

With their arrival a new era had begun in Ireland. 

Since writing arrived in Ireland only with the Roman alphabet, we know little about Celtic Ireland before the coming of Christianity.

 St. Patrick brought the Christian faith in the mid-fifth century. His missionary work was concentrated on the northern half of Ireland.

The marriage of Christianity and Celtic cultures produced in Ireland a society that was essentially conservative. It was basically a rural society with no cities or towns. While some of the more important monasteries  grew into centres with a large population

Gaelic civilisation placed great emphasis on family relationships. The normal family group was made up of all those who were descended from one great-grandfather. The system had the advantage of ensuring that an imbecile or a cripple would scarcely ever become king, but it had the terrible disadvantage of provoking conflict between two or more equally qualified heirs.

The learned class or Aos Dána formed a special group among the freemen. They included judges and lawyers, medical men, craftsmen and most important of all the filí. These were more than poets; they were regarded as seers and visionaries as well. They wrote praise-poems for the king on appropriate occasions, preserved and updated his genealogy and were richly rewarded for their services.

Like most positions in Gaelic Ireland the learned professions tended to become hereditary.

The Celts left many marks on Ireland and its people that have remained. There are thousands of habitation sites dotting the landscape, the bulk of the country's place names and family names. Later settlers added to them and adapted them, but the core remains unmistakably Celtic.

As far as the Irish language was concerned. English became the language of legal, political and administrative life, and overwhelmingly the language of economic and commercial life as well. It was the language of literacy, and in the course of time became the language of liturgy also.

Those who were successful or who aspired to succeed under the new English order abandoned Irish and adopted the English language as quickly as the opportunity presented itself.

The heavy famine mortality among the poorer elements in Irish society dramatically reduced the population of Irish-speakers, while large-scale emigration from Ireland from the second quarter of the nineteenth century largely to English-speaking countries strongly reinforced the desire to acquire English,

Gaelic is the Celtic branch of the Indo-European family of languages.

Today, the term Celtic is often used to describe the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall (England), the Isle of Man(UK) and Brittany. (France) The most spoken Celtic language in the world is Welsh. The term Celt, is pronounced Kelt.