Gaelic was originally a spoken language; however, When the Romans invaded Britain in the 5th century they brought with them the Roman alphabet. Eventually the Gealic, an aural language was adapted to such an alphabet and monks began to write down many of the traditionally oral Gaelic stories and poems, and therefore Gaellic names. One of the earliest masterpieces of Irish literature was "The Book of the Dun Cow". Written in the 12th century, it is a retelling of the Ulster cycle.
Today, Gaelic is one of the national languages of the Republic of Ireland, with over half a million speakers, and is known there as Irish or Irish Gaelic. In Scotland, there are about 90,000 speakers of Gaelic primarily located on the western and northwestern regions.
Gaelic is a branch of the Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family, which arrived in the British Isles during the 6th century BC. The Celtic branch of languages includes Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and Manx (a Gaelic dialect spoken on the Isle of Man).