WHEN you talk to people in the UK or the US, or even Canada or Australia about their ancestral roots, it's quite likely many of them will say they've got roots in Ireland. It's quite a nice thing, really. Few people seem shy about their Irish heritage, but what about the heritage of the Irish? It isn't often asked, but where did the Irishman's story begin? Well, like with most good origin stories, there isn't just one simple answer. So here are six countries where 'Irish people' may have ancestral roots.
Now, I won't linger too long on this one, because it seems fairly obvious. But evidence of settlers in Ireland dates back 12,000 years, during which time the ice age was coming to a slushy, drippy end. Once the ice sheet retreated, small natural land forms, which (obviously) no longer exist, connected Ireland to parts of Scotland and North-West England. Migration was not just likely, but almost inevitable, with the warmer temperatures on the Emerald Isle coaxing ancient settlers from across the East to trudge over.
Later on, Celtic traditions were been shared on both sides of the Irish Sea. Added to this was the impact of the Ulster Plantation, where English and Scottish protestants came and settled on the island in the 17th century.
It is believed that the most likely first settlers on the island of Ireland originated from Spain. While there's no concrete proof of this, there is fleeting evidence which suggests an historic connection between the two lands. It's speculated that Hibernia, the Latin name for Ireland, comes from the name Iberia, the name of the peninsula containing Spain and Portugal. If the name came from Spain, does it fall mainly on the plain?-I mean, does that mean that the people did too? It is said that today, the largest group of people sharing DNA with the Irish reside in the Basque Country in northern Spain, so who knows?
The Viking invasion during the 8th century changed much of the face of the British Isles. Habits, customs, dialects and the ability row were changed by force. And Norwegian ancestry is quite prevalent in Irish DNA records. Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri, who spearheaded a recent study on Irish genetics, explained the Viking’s influence on Irish genes.
“We see relatively high percentages of the Irish genome have Norwegian ancestry and specifically from Norwegian coastal areas. We already knew the history of this, but this is now objective scientific fact that there is Viking DNA in Ireland.”
Might explain all the red-heads, right?
Much like Spain, it's suspected that a number of ships sailed from the Iberian peninsula and settled in Ireland. In Portuguese literature, it's written that Ireland is a mid-stop between Spain and England. Of course, there's one-and-a-half thousand kilometres between Spain and England and only a stone's throw or two between England and Ireland, so this clearly isn't true, but perhaps it was written as such, because Ireland was a common stop-off point for many a Portuguese vessel.