Sunday, June 11, 2023

Irish Celts are as real as Leprechauns

In Ancient Greece Κελτοί (Keltoí) was the word used for "Barbarian" (non-Greek-speaking people, including Egyptians, Persians, Medes, Phoenicians, and tribes in Europe, emphasised their otherness. According to Greek writers, this was because the language they spoke sounded to Greeks like gibberish represented by the sounds "")." While viewing foreigners as inferior, they were also often treated as candidates for conquest and enslavement.

The mainly independent tribes collectively Keltoí had their own names during the Iron Age, between about 600 BC and 43 AD. It would be about 2,000 years, in the early 18th century, for the words "Celt "or "Celtish" to enter the English language.

Greeks established a colony in Southern Gaul around Masallia, or modern-day Marseille in 600 BC. There were about 60 tribes in the area of the Gauls in Western Europe.

There was no invasion of Ireland by these tribes that settled in land stretching from the Atlantic coast to Asia Minor (see map above). What tribes invaded Ireland?

Barry Raftery (1944-2010), professor of Celtic archaeology at University College Dublin, argued that there had been no Celtic invasion of Ireland.

Raftery said there was no Celtic pottery or pottery of any kind until the Christian period. About up to 50 swords had been found in Ireland compared to the hundreds of thousands excavated in western France alone, for example. He also noted that there had not been any two-wheeled chariots found at Irish burial sites.

Prof Raftery said that La Tène artefacts* were the portable trappings of a rising aristocratic élite, which expressed its power by building highly visible monuments. He also referred to the advances that took place in travel and transport; the lives of common Celtic people; technology and art, including gold and stoneworking; and the complex religious beliefs exemplified by standing stones and offerings in rivers and lakes. In his book 'Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age' (1994) he said it included "the latest material concerning Ireland's contacts with the Roman world, and a review of the question whether La Tène culture spread to Ireland through invasion or peaceful diffusion."

Barry Cunliffe (born 1939) is a leading British archaeologist and academic. He was a professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007 and in 'The Celts, A Very Short Introduction' (2003) he wrote that "despite the extreme paucity of evidence from the pre-Roman period "most philologists (relating to the study of languages) agree that early versions of Celtic were being spoken over much of western Europe by the sixth century BC from Iberia to Ireland to the Italian lakes."

However, he wrote that there were "two comfortable old myths." The first was that there was a "coming of the Celts" — in either Britain or Ireland; the second myth was that there was a pan-Celtic Europe counterposed to the dominant Mediterranean Greek and Roman cultures at the time.

Edward Lhuyd (1660-1709) of Wales following visits to Ireland and Scotland coined the words "Celt" and "Celtic" in his 1707 comparative study of the Irish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages. However, Prof Cunliffe and others now argue that the Atlantic elites from Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Britain, up to the Orkney Islands, may have developed a lingua franca that was spread from the Atlantic coastal countries in the West to the European Centre, not from the East to the West which had been the conventional wisdom.

Indigenous people may have developed their own language not taking it from invaders.

For over 1,000 years, following the collapse of the Roman world in the West, the history of the Celts disappeared. Lhuyd led the reinvention of the Celts in the early eighteenth century. Prof Cunliffe wrote that "they were presented as noble ancestors living in a heroic age: the Celtic-speaking communities, and to a lesser extent the English and French, were seen as their successors. In the nineteenth century, as archaeology matured and the old romantic accretions were stripped away, the Celts emerged as a symbol of nascent nationalism."

In Ireland, in 1882 the poet William Butler Yeats, together with the former Fenian John O’Leary and Douglas Hyde, who promoted the revival of the Gaelic language, founded the National Literary Society which aimed at publicising the literature, legends and folklore of Ireland.

Yeats (1865-1939) belonged to the Protestant — Anglo-Irish minority — but much of his childhood had been spent in County Sligo with his mother’s family where he developed a lifelong interest in Irish folklore. 'The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore' was published in 1893. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, includes Druids performing their rituals and stories recounted to the poet by his friends, neighbours, and acquaintances. His grandfather had been the Church of Ireland rector of Drumcliff in Sligo.

Gaul, (French Gaule, Latin Gallia0), comprised the area of modern-day France and parts of Belgium, western Germany, and northern Italy. It covered an area of 494,000 KM2. Julius Ceaser conquered Gaul in 58-50 BC and he invaded Britain in 55 and 54 BC.
From ‘The Celts‘ (Γαλάτες), Athens 2008, (only in Greek.) Shortly before the Roman conquest of Gaul (or Galatia in ancient Greek) by Julius Caesar, about sixty tribes shared its territory. The largest of these tribes (the Arverni, Aedui, Pictones etc.) occupied each a territory of about 15-20,000 KM2 with a population of up to 250,000 inhabitants. The Celtic tribes were divided into sub-tribes called pagi. The 60 Celtic peoples of Gaul included a total of 300 sub-tribes. Many of these pagi were originally independent tribes which were gradually incorporated into the largest ones, either by conquest or by conciliation.

*According to the British Museum, "The term La Tène is used to describe the material culture of the latter half of the Iron Age across much of northern and western Europe, from 450 BC to the Roman conquest. The name is derived from a site of the same name, on Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where the first 'La Tène' type objects were excavated in the late 19th century."


Irish DNA results from a Trinity College Dublin team have been stunning:"We... observe a strong signal of continuity between modern-day Irish populations and the Bronze Age individuals, one of whom is a carrier for the C282Y hemochromatosis mutation, which has its highest frequencies in Ireland today."

"A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon.

These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago."

The Irish Bronze Age dates from approximately 2500 BC to 500 BC and the Iron Age continues to the Christain era (when ages begin and end depends on the particular regions).

In July 1934, a Celtic congress was held in Dublin with representatives from the six "Celtic" countries to meet and discuss matters of common interest. The opening address was delivered by Éamon de Valera, the Irish taoiseach. De Valera stressed the necessity of preserving Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht and extending it throughout the country. He said that the Irish people “had before them the heroic and successful efforts of a neighbouring Celtic people, in particular the Welsh."

Data for 2021 show that 15.0% (458,800) of people aged 3 or older reported that they spoke Welsh daily. In Ireland, it was 1.6% for the Irish language.

Irish data comes from the Census 2016 (data for Census 2022 will be published in December 2023). Some 40% said that they have some Irish but the 'cúpla focal'(few words) is the default for most. In the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament) typically former teachers are fluent in Irish. The rest are an embarrassment.

In the Census 1926 the first since independence, 18.3% of the population said they could speak Irish. The Irish-speaking rate in the Dublin County Borough was 8%.

In 2021 the Irish Government said there was a "Bright future in store for the Irish language as it gains full official and working status in the institutions of the European Union."

In 2022 over 200 people were translating EU documents into Irish for a tiny audience.

But the language is dying!

In 2021 The Irish Independent reported that "Irish is one of 12 languages in the EU at most risk of extinction, according to language learning platform Busuu. The study, which was collated using data from UNESCO’s Atlas of World Languages in Danger, lists Irish as “definitely endangered.”

Busuu ranked the 12 languages in one of four categories used in the Atlas: vulnerable, definitely endangered, severely endangered or critically endangered. Rather than being decided by the number of speakers worldwide, this risk factor to a language is determined by its ‘intergenerational transmission’ - whether older generations pass on the language to younger generations. Linguists predict that at least 43% of languages currently spoken in the world today will likely disappear in the next century, including Irish.

Eoin Mac Néill (1867-1945) an Irish scholar, Irish language enthusiast, nationalist activist and politician, delivered lectures in 1913/14 on Irish history as a professor of history at University College Dublin. He said "Probably the Celts came into Ireland in small separate bodies, each colony having its own government, and so no tradition of centralisation ever grew up. In Scotland, on the contrary, from the fifth century onward there was but one kingdom of the Scots, and this one kingdom effected a gradual conquest of the whole country. Thus the Irish system of petty states was not transplanted to Scotland."

In effect, he concluded that there was no Celtic invasion.

The Modern Celts are an Irish fairytale — a debunked Celtic invasion and a dying language that makes a mockery of the common use of "Celtic" and "Celts."

The real ones sacked and burned Rome in 390 BC while the Greeks defeated a large Celtic army in 279 BC.

Rome would eventually destroy Carthage, overwhelm Greece and conquer the Ancient Celts.

The Leprechaun is said to have emerged in Irish folklore in the 8th century AD.