Thursday, July 28, 2016

Those Irish-Iberian Connections

There's an article on a webpage, Signs of the Times (—The world for people who think) from 2013 that gets trotted out regularly on Facebook,  DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought, that, for some reason, pushes my buttons. I suspect that it's the way it's written that froths my dander, more than anything else.

This is my off the cuff response to the article: I need to go back and synthesize it, until I find my way with it. Now I don't have a through line. Working on it.

I wrote: This article/writer needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or read carefully) in that what it's trying to point out, and what it actually does point out, seem to be two different agendas. It's a bit of a rehash. Or maybe a mishmash.

RE: the statement that "The blood in Irish veins is Celtic, right? Well, not exactly.... the Irish are close genetic relatives of the people of northern Spain." OK, here's the argument she's making. Thesis statement, if you will.

However, there needs to be a qualifier: yes, there's a link with Galicia, a known Celtic country, not with Spain, nor Basquelands, either. Bronze Age Iberia was mostly settled by Celts who spoke Gaulish, fergawdsakes, of course there would be genetic links. Ditto that with Northern Portugal too.

The Irish are not related to the Spanish (or Portuguese), they're related to an ancient group of Celtic  peoples (pre-Spanish), some of whom who still inhabit the northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. 

The minute you mention Spain, everybody immediately jumps to Basque links—no, they're not related, and certainly not linguistically related. Then they jump to Black Irish, and ridiculous Spanish Armada links. The persistence of myth is hard to eradicate.

The author goes on to say: "the latest research into both British and Irish DNA suggests that people on the two islands have much genetically in common."

Yes. We're still talking about Haplogroup 1 (or Rb1—related to the redhead gene) here. Same as the Keltoi of Central Europe. Didn't she just claim the opposite?

My main gripe: there has never been a conclusive genome map done of the entire British Isles by one scientific group. Not like what was done in Iceland. That needs to be done first, before sweeping conclusions can be made. Not isolate genome bits here and there, with piecemeal theories pastiched together.

"Many people still refer to Irish, Scottish and Welsh as Celtic culture." (This is what I think she's trying to refute via ethnicity).

They still are culturally related, this article proves nothing. Culture is defined by many signatures, and not all need to be present at once: language, ritual/religion, DNA, etc.

Let's look at the larger use of rhetoric. The scope of the article. Her stance: Irish are not the same as British. Therefore they're not directly descended from the Keltoi of central Europe. Ergo, also not related to the British. This article was written in 2013, by someone in Northern Ireland. So what is her point? The case she's making? Otherness? Why? What purpose?

FWIW, I have books on the history of the Celts dating back to the 1990s and earlier that acknowledge that there's an Iberian (not Spanish) connection with Ireland. But it's not the only Celtic connection. I don't think the Central European Keltoi La Tene artistic links came from Iberia. Just sayin'.

Also, there's linguistic evidence in Ireland of both P-Celtic and Q-Celtic languages, via tribal and placenames, which suggests a much more complex picture of Celtic migrations than what's painted here. But it's a start.

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