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A few years ago filmaker and author Bob Quinn gave a lecture in Trinity College Dublin on the subject of his latest book “The Atlantean Irish”. It was his contention that the original origins of the Irish were not Celtic.
Mr Quinn noticed similarities between Connemara culture and those of the other Atlantic seaboards of Europe and even North Africa across to the Mediterranean to the near Orient. Not being a scientist, his observations were of a predominantly cultural variety and took into account dress, language, music, religion and in particular the peoples’ relationships with the sea itself. He went further into exploring the ideas of how we identify our culture as being Celtic and explained away this fallacy for the most part. But what about the people?
Well, yes and no.
No, in that the first settlers were not celts. This should not come as a shock – Ireland received its first guests in 8000BC. These first generation Irish went on to form a fairly dense (in relation to contemporary populations) homogenous population for seven thousand years before the spread of celtic culture across Europe.
Yes, in that Celtic culture did indeed influence Ireland, but this was much later, and really only as a by-product of pan-european trade routes. Bear in mind, the oft-touted swirls and spirals of ancient Irish monuments pre-date Celtic culture by over 4000 years in some cases. But go to the National Museum on Kildare Street in Dublin and it is plain to see that a lot of the metalwork that has been found is truly Celtic in nature.
Genetic studies have borne out these facts and state that any post-Bronze age population invasions did not form isolated genetically pure communities of Celts but mingled with the native Irish.
A recent survey (highlighted in an even more recent RTE documentary) by Trinity College Dublin found the nearest population to those Irish people who trace the longest insular lineages, is a story of the western European Atlantic seaboard. The genetic ties to the Basque people are very strong. This is seconded by a study by Christian Capelli, David Goldstein and others at University College, London which found further links through Scottish, Welsh and some English populations, particularly in areas with Gaelic place-names. Now there’s a huge surprise.
The Atlantean Irish: Ireland’s Oriental and Maritime Heritage, Bob Quinn, Lilliput Press, 2004
A Y Chromosome Census of the British Isles, Current Biology, Vol. 13, 979–984, May 27, 2003, Authors: Cristian Capelli, Nicola Redhead, Julia K. Abernethy, Fiona Gratrix,James F. Wilson, Torolf Moen, Tor Hervig, Martin Richards, Michael P.H. Stumpf, Peter A. Underhill, Paul Bradshaw, Alom Shaha, Mark G. Thomas, Neal Bradman, and David B. Goldstein
Genetic studies show our closest relatives are found in Galicia and the Basque region, by Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times 16 Feb 2009
This article was posted by Ronan McDonnell on
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at
It is archived in History, Ireland, Music, Myth, Science and tagged Art, Culture, genetics, History, Ireland, origins, Science.
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