Irish has been the predominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, and they have brought it with them to other regions, notably Scotland and the Isle of Man, where Middle Irish gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and Manx respectively. It has the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe.
Irish enjoys constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland, and is an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland. It is also among the official languages of the European Union. The public body Foras na Gaeilge is responsible for the promotion of the language throughout the island of Ireland.
In An Caighdeán Oifigiúil (the official written standard) the name of the language is Gaeilge (Irish pronunciation: ). Before the spelling reform of 1948, this form was spelled Gaedhilge; originally this was the genitive of Gaedhealg, the form used in Classical Irish. Older spellings of this include Gaoidhealg in Classical Irish and Goídelc in Old Irish. The modern spelling results from the deletion of the silent dh in the middle of Gaedhilge, whereas Goidelic, used to refer to the language family including Irish, is derived from the Old Irish term.
Other forms of the name found in the various modern Irish dialects (in addition to south Connacht Gaeilge above) include Gaedhilic/Gaeilic/Gaeilig () or Gaedhlag () in Ulster Irish and northern Connacht Irish and Gaedhealaing/Gaoluinn/Gaelainn () in Munster Irish.
In Europe the language is usually referred to as Irish, with Gaelic or Irish Gaelic used in some instances elsewhere. The term Irish Gaelic is often used when English speakers discuss the relationship between the three Goidelic languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx).