Gaelic literature

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Gaelic literature is literature in the vernacular Gaelic languages of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Gaelic literature is recognised as one of the oldest literature traditions of Europe, excepting only Latin literature and Greek literature: literature has been written in Gaelic languages from the 1st centuries AD to the present day. Latin had been used extensively in the Gaelic lands, with the advent of Christianity, however, the Gaels were in the vanguard as regards using their own language to write literary works of merit.

The first works of Gaelic literature[edit]

Works of a religious nature were the first to appear in the 'Sean-Ghaeilge' (English : Old Irish), the earliest form written in Latin script, as it would appear that the Gaelic speaking monks wanted to impart the religion to their flocks in the native tongue. It is thought likely that the first church hymns and prayers were composed in Old Irish as early as the 6th century. The work 'Amra Choluim Chille' is the earliest extant literary work of this nature left to us. It is written in a very early form of the 'Sean-Ghaeilge', and the Meter has an old-fashioned appearance, more so than the rest of the literature of this period. Experts think that it was composed by Dallán Forgaill, towards the end of the 6th century, when Colm Cille had died.

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