Skip to comments.Blood of the Irish: DNA Proves Ancestry of the People of Ireland
Posted on 07/13/2013 11:17:17 AM PDT by Renfield
The Blood in Irish veins is Celtic, right? Well, not exactly. Although the history many Irish people were taught at school is the history of the Irish as a Celtic race, the truth is much more complicated, and much more interesting than that ...
Research done into the DNA of Irish males has shown that the old Anthropological attempts to define 'Irish' have been misguided. As late as the 1950s researchers were busy collecting data among Irish people such as hair colour and height, in order to categorise them as a 'race' and define them as different to the British. In fact British and Irish people are closely related in their ancestry.
Research into Irish DNA and ancestry has revealed close links with Scotland stretching back to before the Ulster Planation of the early 1600s. But the closest relatives to the Irish in DNA terms are actually from somewhere else entirely!
One of the oldest texts composed in Ireland is the Leabhar Gabhla, the Book of Invasions. It tells a semi-mythical history of the waves of people who settled in Ireland in earliest time. It says the first settlers to arrive in Ireland were a small dark race called the Fir Bolg, followed by a magical super-race called the Tuatha de Danaan (the people of the goddess Dana).
Most interestingly, the book says that the group which then came to Ireland and fully established itself as rulers of the island were the Milesians - the sons of Mil, the soldier from Spain. Modern DNA research has actually confirmed that the Irish are close genetic relatives of the people of northern Spain.
While it might seem strange that Ireland was populated from Spain rather than Britain or France, it is worth remembering that in ancient times the sea was one of the fastest and easiest ways to travel. When the land was covered in thick forest, coastal settlements were common and people travlleled around the seaboard of Europe quite freely.
The earliest settlers came to Ireland around 10,000 years ago, in Stone Age times. There are still remnants of their presence scatter across the island. Mountsandel in Coleraine in the North of Ireland is the oldest known site of settlement in Ireland - remains of woven huts, stone tools and food such as berries and hazelnuts were discovered at the site in 1972.
But where did the early Irish come from? For a long time the myth of Irish history has been that the Irish are Celts. Many people still refer to Irish, Scottish and Welsh as Celtic culture - and the assumtion has been that they were Celts who migrated from central Europe around 500BCE. Keltoi was the name given by the Ancient Greeks to a 'barbaric' (in their eyes) people who lived to the north of them in central Europe. While early Irish art shows some similarities of style to central European art of the Keltoi, historians have also recognised many significant differences between the two cultures.
The latest research into Irish DNA has confirmed that the early inhabitants of Ireland were not directly descended from the Keltoi of central Europe. In fact the closest genetic relatives of the Irish in Europe are to be found in the north of Spain in the region known as the Basque Country. These same ancestors are shared to an extent with the people of Britain - especially the Scottish.
DNA testing through the male Y chromosome has shown that Irish males have the highest incidence of the haplogroup 1 gene in Europe. While other parts of Europe have integrated contiuous waves of new settlers from Asia, Ireland's remote geographical position has meant that the Irish gene-pool has been less susceptible to change. The same genes have been passed down from parents to children for thousands of years.
This is mirrored in genetic studies which have compared DNA analysis with Irish surnames. Many surnames in Irish are Gaelic surnames, suggesting that the holder of the surname is a descendant of people who lived in Ireland long before the English conquests of the Middle Ages. Men with Gaelic surnames, showed the highest incidences of Haplogroup 1 (or Rb1) gene. This means that those Irish whose ancestors pre-date English conquest of the island are direct descendants of early stone age settlers who migrated from Spain.
I live in Northern Ireland and in this small country the differences between the Irish and the British can still seem very important. Blood has been spilt over the question of national identity.
However, the lastest research into both British and Irish DNA suggests that people on the two islands have much genetically in common. Males in both islands have a strong predominance of Haplogroup 1 gene, meaning that most of us in the British Isles are descended from the same Spanish stone age settlers.
The main difference is the degree to which later migrations of people to the islands affected the population's DNA. Parts of Ireland (most notably the western seaboard) have been almost untouched by outside genetic influence since hunter-gatherer times. Men there with traditional Irish surnames have the highest incidence of the Haplogroup 1 gene - over 99%.
At the same time London, for example, has been a mutli-ethnic city for hundreds of years. Furthermore, England has seen more arrivals of new people from Europe - Anglo-Saxons and Normans - than Ireland. Therefore while the earliest English ancestors were very similar in DNA and culture to the tribes of Ireland, later arrivals to England have created more diversity between the two groups.
Irish and Scottish people share very similar DNA. The obvious similarities of culture, pale skin, tendancy to red hair have historically been prescribed to the two people's sharing a common celtic ancestry. Actually it now seems much more likely that the similarity results from the movement of people from the north of Ireland into Scotland in the centuries 400 - 800 AD. At this time the kingdom of Dalriada, based near Ballymoney in County Antrim extended far into Scotland. The Irish invaders brought Gaelic language and culture, and they also brought their genes.
This hub explains really well how DNA origins can be traced through the male Y chromosome:
The MC1R gene has been identified by researchers as the gene responsible for red hair as well as the accompanying fair skin and tendency towards freckles. According to recent research, genes for red hair first appeared in human beings about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.
These genes were then brought to the British Isles by the original settlers, men and women who would have been relatively tall, with little body fat, athletic, fair-skinned and who would have had red hair. So red-heads may well be descended from the earliest ancestors of the Irish and British.
“Spanish”? Wrong tribes, I think.
So I can now claim that I am Hispanic and have been unlawfully discriminated against my whole life!
Being of northern Spanish decent, we have known that we have the same DNA of the Irish for a long time. So nice that the other side is picking it up.
Many washed up in Ireland from Spain’s “Invincible Armada”.
I was under the impression that the Basque relatives of ancient Irish were Celtic...
So now I gotta start eating Corned Beef Paella?
That would be the source thereof. Does not point to the ultimate origin of the Irish, though.
This is not new but it is true. Our family (Irish) traces its roots to spanish kings.
Why do do studies like this? It’s european blood, therefore contains no grant inducing diversity genes
Irish DNA was found at Roswell. Irish are Legal Aliens!!!
Paella is from the other side of Spain. Though these days its popular everywhere.
Think more along the lines of eels and squid in ink.
later Irish DNA
The Basques are not Celtic. The Basque language is “disconnected”, that is, not organically related to any other known language. The Celtic languages are Indo-European and are related distantly to other European languages.
That armada was a big oops heh
Language doesn’t determine genetics.
I'm an R1b (male) from Ireland with a marker from Denmark....maybe a Viking? My female DNA is 'V', probably Skolt Sami of northern Finland.
If I had known that I’m Hispanic, then I could have gotten free money to go to a more prestigious college.
About 70% of all Europeans can trace their DNA ,via haplogroups R1b and 'H', to the Iberian Ice Age Refuge. (present day Spain/Portugal)
In the 1600s many Huguenots (French Protestants) landed on Irish shores fleeing from France..
In 1710 when Queen Anne sent those 3,000 Palatine Germans to Albany, NY to chop down pine trees and make pitch and tar to seal her wooden war ships, she also sent about 3,000 more to Ireland...
Some of them stayed and some of them moved on to Canada a couple of generations later...after 1760 when the English took over from the French...
Plus the Scots who traveled back and forth to Ireland every few generations or so...My early to mid 1800s Irish were named Campbell, Irvine, Hunter :)
Lots of bloodlines to choose from...
If youre Irish you could be have French, German, Scot, English ancestors as well as a Black Irish/Spaniard...
Oh and the Vikings...
I happened upon a site that scrolls through pictures of native Basques. They bear a striking resemblance to the faces one can see walking down a street in Cork or Limerick. Not at all like the Moorish and Mediterranean look one associates with "Spaniard". They certainly do not believe themselves to be Spanish and have fought just as viciously at times for their independence as the Irish have from Britain.
The Norsemen/Vikings were all over what now is Ireland, Scotland, and England, not to mention the lands of the Rus, the continually warring tribes of which they pacified and unified, after a fashion, creating Russia. The Normans invaded northern region of what now is France, and settled there in numbers such that Charlemagne granted them what we know as Normandy. Floating down rivers from the north, they were able to trade with the Arabs.
Another interesting read on the same topic.
According to this guy, my "English" blood is something like 70% Celtic. The Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Norman contributions to the English gene pool are much smaller than commonly believed.
The people of Galicia in Spain have a Celtic background.
Listen to Llan de Cubel sometime. A Celtic folk band from Asturias, in northern Spain. Perfectly good Irish “diddley music” but in Spanish.
Looks like we have a class action lawsuit. And we will have a lock on the potato burrito market.
The original Celts (the keltoi barbarians as the Greeks called them of that time, in 6th Century BC 800-450BC) were in the central core area of Europe, in Austria, and id’d by the Hallstatt culture. The Celts spread across that Europe,to the British Isles ( France and the low country (hence, the Gauls which Rome had to deal with forever), Bohemia, Poland and much of Central Europe, to the Spanish Peninsula. The Gallic invasion led all the way to the Balkans and as far east as central Turkey, where they were called Gallo-Graeci (the Gauls among the Greeks). Light skinned, blond or red haired Gauls in Turkey (might still see some there amongst the turks)
The island Celts divided into the Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx),the Brythonic Celts (Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons), as they are today.
This article is a genetic tracing, and leaves out a lot. Surely elements of “spanish” celts migrated to Ireland, and have the haplotype mentioned. But as another poster here mentioned, the dark haired, dark eyed olive complexion Irish so-called “Black” Irish, Spaniards who descended from the Moorish invasion of Spain , and were then survivors from the Spanish Armada that sank and who washed ashore, were taken in if not killed and assimilated into Irish population.
Most would not think of Poland and Bohemia as being Celtic descent, but they are. Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. So, the French are Celts, too— yow!
Elgin is an ancient walled city in Scotland and also an earldom. In the Gaelic "Elgin" means "little Ireland." The greatest proof that there was an influx from Ireland into what is now Elgin is that about 90% of the better single malt scotch is made in Elgin. It has the most stops along the Whiskey trail. It seems that the Irish brougt with them the skill of making usquebaugh.
The Earl of Elgin, however, is now a Bruce. Seems a Scots King had a hired sword, a Norman by the name of Robert le Brus. The king, no dummy, it seems, arranged for his hired sword to marry one of the beautiful daughters of the Elgin chief, who had daughters not sons. One of the male offspring became well known as Robert the Bruce.
For a real treat also listen to “Red Wine”, an excellent Italian bluegrass band. Mandolinist is a thoracic surgeon and they sing phonetic english, but also have songs in Italian. A trip.
And the Norsemen/Vikings in Normandy, known as the Normans, are the ones that conquered England and Ireland in 1066.
Too true, but the language can infect. The affectation of clearly non-genetic speakers. See: ebonics.
Turn down the sound, look at the musicians and the setting, and say it’s not Ireland or Scotland. Turn up the music and enjoy beautiful Celtic tune sung in Spanish.
Actually, I’m not sure what is the point of the original blog post.
I thought it was well-known that Irish are related to Basques.
And the Basques aren’t as genetically distinct as was historically assumed, but they certainly are culturally distinct, as are the Irish-Scots. Probably isolation on the peripheries of the continent.
But, you couldn’t be... you’d be a “white Hispanic” LOL an Iberian Celt.
Insofar as you would be an Irish immigrant, back when “no Irish need apply” white hispanic or otherwise... again LOL (tongue not too firmly in cheek) and discriminated against because of ...religion? Not those who escaped the Ulster Plantation (Irish and Scots Presbyterians). Politics disgusting.
Obviously reparations are in order. My ancestors were discriminated against, and I have a right to all the money they would have made, plus interest.
I think the signs said no “Micks.” Ever notice the similarity to the Hispanic slur? Coincidence? I think not. ;)
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That is very interesting-to the best of my knowledge, I’ve no Irish or Scottish ancestors. However-my Spanish ancestors came from the Pyrenees, and were Basques-many of us still carry the original surname of those who came to the New World in the 1500’s from that part of Spain.
By the late 1700’s, most of the family had mated and married with settlers from other areas of Spain, Native Americans, moved to south Texas, and then intermarried with a couple of Creoles from Louisiana, a West Prussian or two in the early 1800’s...
And after all that mixing, dark red hair, gray/green eyes with lighter skin is still fairly common in my family (I have that look.) If the information in this article is correct, then those original genes are some powerful ones to have that kind of staying power...
The historical tradition expressed by the Scots in 1320 in the Declaration of Arbroath is often regarded as fiction but may very well be more factual than suspected.
“They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since...”
“... It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
Wellnow. That means that my long-standing answer to the question of “what is you ancestry?” is more right than I knew: The answer? Genetic mongrel.
Since my genealogy goes WAY back, and covers all areas of Europe, Asia and Africa, I have the right to say the word...mongrel...and be proud!