Six Celtic Nations

Celtic NationsThe six Celtic nations recognized by their language are the following: Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. Celtic language is still alive in Ireland, Wales and Brittany but in the Isle of Man and Cornwall the language died out eventually.

Six Celtic Nations

The six territories recognised as Celtic nations are Brittany (Breizh), Cornwall (Kernow), Wales (Cymru), Scotland (Alba), Ireland (Éire), and the Isle of Man (Mannin). Each has a Celtic language that is either still spoken or was spoken into modern times.

Territories in north-western Iberia—particularly Galicia, Northern Portugal and Asturias; sometimes referred to as Gallaecia, which includes North-Central Portugal—are sometimes included due to their culture and history.

Unlike the others, however, no Celtic language has been spoken there in modern times. Before the expansions of Ancient Rome and the Germanic tribes, a significant part of Europe was dominated by Celtic culture.

Celtic Languages

Ireland, Wales, Brittany and Scotland contain areas where a Celtic language is used on a daily basis – in Ireland the area is called the Gaeltacht on the west coast; Y Fro Gymraeg in Wales, and in Brittany Breizh-Izel. Generally these communities are in the west of their countries and in more isolated upland or island areas.

The term Gàidhealtachd historically distinguished the Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland (the Highlands) from the Lowland Scots (i.e. Anglo-Saxon-speaking) areas. More recently, this term has also been adopted as the Gaelic name of the Highland council area, which includes non-Gaelic speaking areas. Hence, more specific terms such as sgìre Ghàidhlig (“Gaelic-speaking area”) are now used.

Other Territories

Parts of the northern Iberian Peninsula, namely Galicia, Cantabria, Asturias and Northern Portugal, also lay claim to this heritage. Notably, the region’s music features extensive use of bagpipes, an instrument common in Celtic music. Musicians from Galicia and Asturias have participated in Celtic music festivals, such as the Breton Festival Interceltique de Lorient, which in 2013 celebrated the Year of Asturias.

Northern Portugal, part of ancient Gallaecia (Galicia, Minho, Douro and Trás-os-Montes), also has traditions quite similar to Galicia. However, no Celtic language has been spoken in northern Iberia since probably the Early Middle Ages.


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