It is NOT called Gaelic in Ireland. It is called Irish—fact number 1 that I didn't know until my recent two week trip. The Republic of Ireland, Eire, is officially bilingual, with Irish and English having equal status. All signs and documents are in both languages. Although all children now study Irish in school, it is primarily spoken in certain areas known as An Ghaeltacht. There is a very active written literature and theater and there are Irish radio and tv stations.
Working at a language school, I thought I should learn a little of the language. Ha! It is very old, developed from one of the Celtic dialects brought to Bronze Age Ireland and Britain. It's history is fascinating but not for here. I bought a small Irish Phrase Book, by Paul Dorris. I didn't get much past a phrase like through the window, translated as trid an fhuinneog and pronounced as treej in inyog or in the bottle, sa bhuidéal, pronounced sa wujell.
Ireland can be described perhaps as self-referential. It is part of the EU, has a vibrant immigrant community and an economy in shambles, but, at least from a tourist's perspective, it has remained quite focused on its history, language, literature, music, geography, and culture. I also bought (and read) A Pocket History of Gaelic Culture, but Alan Titley. He is a marvelous writer but, unfortunately, his novels are only available in Irish.
Here's a language related quote from that book. "To understand the Irish language is to be able to read the landscape. Every townland [61,402 currently, used for mailing addresses] and field and promontory means something. ...
How about: Cargaghlisnanarney, the rocky land of the fairy fort of the berries; Legmuckduff, the hollow ground of the black pig; Mohernameela, the thicket of the hornless cow; Cappaghvuckle, the tillage plot of the drove of swine; or Tobernamoodane, the well of the stumps left on a furze hill after the scythe or hook?"
It was a wonderful vacation!