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Celtic Keyboard Layouts

These pages give complete recommended specifications for the placement of characters on keyboards designed for use by people typing in Celtic languages. It is assumed that the standard ISO keyboard is the hardware in use. This is essentially identical in the US on the one hand and Britain and Ireland on the other, except for the placement of the £ and # signs.

Several specifications are given, depending on the character set in use. On the Macintosh platform, four character sets are in common use:

  • Unicode. Mac OS X. Supports all the needs of the Celtic languages
  • Mac OS Roman. US and British Mac OS 6 through Mac OS 9. No support for Irish dotted consonants or Welsh accented W and Y.
  • Mac OS Celtic. Irish and Welsh localizations of Mac OS 6.0.8 and Mac OS 7.1. Supports Welsh accented W and Y but not Irish dotted consonants.
  • Mac OS Gaelic. CeltScript and other compliant fonts. Supports Irish dotted consonants as well as Welsh accented W and Y.
On the PC platform, six character sets are in common use:
  • Unicode. Supports all the needs of the Celtic languages
  • Windows CP1252. No support for Welsh accented W and Y or Irish dotted consonants.
  • ISO-IR 182. Supports Welsh accented W and Y but not Irish dotted consonants.
  • Extended Latin 8. Superset of Latin 8 containing Windows punctuation characters. Supports Irish dotted consonants as well as Welsh accented W and Y.
  • Latin 8 (ISO/IEC 8859-14). CeltScript and other compliant fonts. Supports Irish dotted consonants as well as Welsh accented W and Y.
  • CER-GS. Deprecated in favour of Extended Latin 8. Supports Irish dotted consonants as well as Welsh accented W and Y.
For more information regarding these encoding standards (see Encoding Celtic fonts).

These specifications make use of deadkeys for accented vowels, but the main vowels of each Celtic language are accessed by pressing the Option or Alt key. A practice using the apostrophe exists for Irish, but I do not have a detailed specification for it, apart from the fact that the deadkey used is the apostrophe key, which would seem impractical considering how frequently the apostrophe is used in both Irish and English.

The Macintosh keyboards are available free online. You can download them from the pages below.

As a matter of historical interest, I have made descriptions of the keyboard layouts of the original Irish typewriters (ca. 1905-1955) available from this site.

Keyboard layouts for Mac OS:

IrishIrish: Keyboard for Ireland. Mac OS Roman and Unicode character sets.
OghamOgham: Unicode character set

Keyboard layouts for Typewriters:

  • Underwood, Tower, and Royal: Keyboard for the Underwood, Tower, and Royal typewriters.
  • Keyboard layouts for Mac OS 7.1 through Mac OS 9.2:

    IrishIrish: Keyboard for Ireland. Mac OS Roman character set.
    GaeilgeGaeilge: Keyboard for Irish Gaelic. Mac OS Celtic character set.
    SeanchlóSeanchló: Keyboard for Irish Gaelic in the Gaelic script (cló Gaelach). Mac OS Gaelic character set.
    GälischGälisch: German QWERTZ keyboard for Irish Gaelic in the Gaelic script (cló Gaelach). Mac OS Gaelic character set.
    GaéliqueGaélique: French AZERTY keyboard for Irish Gaelic in the Gaelic script (cló Gaelach). Mac OS Gaelic character set.
    GàidhligGàidhlig: Keyboard for Scottish Gaelic. Mac OS Celtic character set.
    Cymraeg CydwladolCymraeg Cydwladol International keyboard for Welsh recommended for use in Ireland and Scotland. Mac OS Celtic character set.
    Cymraeg SafonolCymraeg Safonol Standard keyboard for Welsh as used in Wales. Mac OS Celtic character set.
     
    IrishIrish: Mike Brady's keyboard for Irish Gaelic. Mac OS Roman character set.
    OghamOgham: I.S. 434 character set
     
    HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, Cnoc na Sceiche, Leac an Anfa, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Éire, 2002-09-04

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