Ivernic language

Iron Language redirects here. Not to be confused with the Iron dialect of the Ossetian language.
Region Ireland
Extinct c. 8th century AD
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Ivernic is the modern name for an extinct P-Celtic (probably Brythonic) language mentioned in the Sanas Cormaic, written in the 9th century AD by the Old Irish-speaking Cormac mac Cuilennáin, where it is called Iarnnbērlæ (modern Irish: Iarmbélre), traditionally translated as "Iron Speech", although the "Iarnn-" prefix may be etymologically akin to Iverni.

T. F. O'Rahilly believed this language was spoken by the Iverni (hence its modern name). He proposed that the Iverni invaded Ireland from Britain, bringing with them the language. However, by the proto-historical period the Iverni were evidently Goidelic-speaking, as evidenced by the fact that ogham inscriptions in Primitive Irish are most abundant in Counties Cork and Kerry.[1] Whether the Iverni spoke such a language has been considered controversial by some Irish historians.

The Sanas Cormaic defines Ivernic as such:

Iarnnbērlæ .i. is aire isberar, ar a duibe in bēlræ ⁊ ar a dorchatæ ⁊ ar a dlūithe, co nāch erasa taisscēlad ind. 755.

Iron Speech n. it is so called because of the darkness of the language, and its obscurity and density, so that it is difficult to explore.

Two words are further recorded in the Sanas as coming from Ivernic, which Cormac describes as recently extinct: ond = "stone" and fern = "anything good".[2]


  1. John T. Koch, "Ériu, Alba and Letha: When was a Language Ancestral to Gaelic First Spoken in Ireland?", Emania 9, 1991, pp. 17-27
  2. O'Rahilly, T. F. (1946), Early Irish History and Mythology, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
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