The Irish – more Spanish than Celtic?

December 29, 2006 · 56 comments

Scientists have concluded that the Celts did not invade Ireland en masse, nor did they replace an earlier group.

Despite the widely held belief that the Irish are descended from Celts who invaded Ireland about 2,500 years ago, a 2004 genetic research study at Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) appears to argue against it.

The Celtic cultural heritage in Ireland is prolific and informs the common perceptions and beliefs about the national identity and its origins. From traditional cultural sources in language, legend and literature the Celtic influence is strong and can also be found in contemporary culture such as Enya and the Afro Celt Sound System. The research however suggests that our blood if not also some (at least) of our culture can or should be attributed to wider origins: Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and North Africa.

The study, conducted by Dr. Dan Bradley and Brian McEvoy, a Ph.D student conducted this genetic study with the support of the Irish government to determine “whether there was a large incursion by Celtic people 2,500 years ago” as is widely believed.

The scientists compared the DNA samples of 200 volunteers from around Ireland with a genetic database of 8,500 individuals from around Europe. (The Celts came from Central Europe stretching as far as Hungary).

They found that the Irish samples matched those around Britain and the Pyrenees in Spain. There were some matches in Scandinavia and parts of North Africa.

The scientists concluded that ‘the Irish’ genetic makeup stems from the onset of an ice-age around 15,000 years ago that forced prehistoric man back into Spain, Italy and Greece, which were still fairly temperate. When the ice started melting again around 12,000 years ago, people followed the retreating ice northwards as areas became hospitable again.

The TCD study produced a map of Europe with contours linking places that are genetically similar. One contour goes around the edge of the Atlantic touching Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and includes Galicia in Spain as well as the Basque region.

Some archaeologists also doubt that there was a Celtic invasion because few of their artifacts have been found in Ireland.

“The primary genetic legacy of Ireland seems to have come from people from Spain and Portugal after the last ice age.” said McEvoy. “They seem to have come up along the coast through Western Europe and arrived in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It’s not due to something that happened 2,500 years ago with Celts.” We have a much older genetic legacy.

The findings are published in The American Journal of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago.

Does this finally help explain the ‘dark Irish’ phenomenon?

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl (Mahoney) Noonan January 15, 2007 at 12:39 pm

This does explain who the black Irish are. My father and sister both had black curly hair and light skin and eyes. They were small boned and short. Dad’s family was from Western Ireland in county Cork. I believe genetics have proven a connection, at least with the men of Western Europe, to the Basque’s of Spain and France.

Asier January 16, 2007 at 4:49 pm

It’s ironic that genetic studies make clear the importance of the Basques in European people’s origin while Spanish goverment still doesnt respecte their right to decide as a free nation, even denying their existance as a nation.

Mike January 18, 2007 at 8:17 pm

DNA shows Scots and Irish should look to Spain for their ancestry

THE Irish and Scots may be as closely related to the people of Spain and Portugal as the Celts of central Europe.

Historians have long believed the British Isles were invaded by Iron Age Celts from central Europe in about 500 BC. But geneticists at Dublin’s Trinity College now claim the Scots and Irish have as much, if not more, in common with the people of north-western Spain.

Dr Daniel Bradley, genetics lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, said a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics into Celtic origins revealed close affinities with the people of Galicia.

“It’s well known that there are cultural relations between the areas but now this shows there is much more,” Dr Bradley said.

Historians believed that the Celts, who were originally from the Alpine regions of central Europe, invaded the Atlantic islands in a massive migration 2,500 years ago. But Dr Bradley said that it was possible migrants moved from the Iberian peninsula as far back as 6,000 years ago and up until 3,000 years ago.

The study, using DNA samples from people living in Celtic nations and other parts of Europe, found

there are also close links between Scotland and Ireland dating back much further than the Plantations of the 1600s, when many Scots moved to northern Ireland in search of fertile farming land.

This article:

Last updated: 10-Sep-04 00:51 GMT

Brian January 19, 2007 at 12:37 pm

The welsh are of a predominantly meditteranean appearance. Most people in wales have black hair and brown eyes with white skin (some have dark skin like ruth madoc, imogen thomas and catherine zeta jones (whos mum is only 1/4 irish btw)). some welsh people have blonde hair or red hair with blue eyes too (about 5-7% at most).

In population genetics on y-chromosomesthe welsh are in haplogroup markers 88% r1b, 5% I, 4% e3b, 2% r1a and 1% j2.

Haplogroup r1b averages 90-95% amongst the basques
of northern spain and south-western france. The basques speak a language isolate and are descended from the people that lived there some 35000 years ago.

genetic marker r1b is 70% in spain , northern italy and 65% in portugal. R1b is only 22% in sweden and 1% in finland. r1b is 40% in germany.
R1b is found highest in atlantic britain, western ireland, western france, northern span and western portugal. Genetic marker r1b is found in greatest diversity in northern spain indicating it originated there.

The basques have no relationship with the celts or any north european ethnic group. None of the peoples of spain or southwestern france do.

Most welsh people are descened from people who arrived from the iberian refuge in the paleolithic and mesolithic. The celtic languages did not originate in central europe, they originated in north western spain and came to britain via the atlantic coast fo france. A roman general mistakedly located a river in the pyrenees for being the danube and the home of the celts hence the myth started.

Language spareading only requires a minority elite and most geneticists and historians agree that populations have changed very little in the last 7000-5000 years despite languages spreading very fast.

The welsh along with the people of western ireland, cornwall and scotland have significant middle eastern influences on maternal dna (from north africa via spain) that arrived in the mesolithic.

Evidence for welsh genetics:….ils.php? id=7817…les/ 1256894.stm…ki/ Welsh_People…22/10/1964/ TBL1…ect/ Cavalli.htm

Evidence for Welsh phenotype:…ace_- _Map_4.jpg…e: Pobolycwm.jpg hallo…halloffame.html…cwm/characters/…)% 20PHOTOS.html

Youtube video of welsh tv programs spoken in welsh

Gene Ashley February 2, 2007 at 5:19 am

My Ashley ( Ancestors,migrated to the colonies from England.
My DNA hAs the Ui Neil signature. I also have the Anatolian bump (Turan kemigi) Physical Characteristics only of Scythia now known as turkey.
Gene Ashley

michael February 14, 2007 at 4:50 am

Irish mythology speaks of a migration from northwest Spain. There is also a myth that the celts passed through Egypt where the chiefton married and Egyptian princess named Scotia. I may have spelled her name wrong but either way you get the picture. I am inclined to believe that the celts originated in central Asia and that there were different waves of migration, just as there were with their cousins of Germanic ethnicity. One such migration came through Europe and arrived as far as Britain. The other migration, which I believe would be much earlier, traveld through the middle east and north Africa. There is clearly a very strong connection between Ireland, Scotland and Spain as well as Brittany and Wales. There are artifacts as late as the 5th century A.D. with inscriptions in Gaelic in north west Spain. Also Galicia is known by the ancient name of finestere and Brittany has an area also called by the same name. Apparently the name has something to do with land’s end. I think it is very interesting to note that all the places where celtic culture has survived are very similar in appearance. All have hills and mountains, are very green and rainy, and are located on or near the coast.

eleute February 18, 2007 at 5:25 am

Basque nation is a myth. The Vascongadas is a cultural and ethnologycal region of Spain. The people of Basque Country is a crucible of races: old peoples like vascones (not from Basque region rather Cantabria), cantabros, castilians, etc…
The basque nationalism is a XIX-XXth centuries. The most famous basques were always spaniards, some of them are today condemned to ostracism because of they are spaniards rather basque fundamentalist and fanatic. For example Unamuno & Pio Baroja in XXth have been erradicated from cultural nationalism because both were pride to being spaniards.
Basque Nationalism was born in XIXth with SAbino Arana a mediocre school master. His philosophy has connections with eugenism & is a precedent of nazi philosophy: paganism, ultranationalism, exacerbated fanatism racism.
If the richness of a people along his history is determinated by the cultural and racial cross, the nationalism and eugenism deffended by people like Asier represent the poverty and the indigency.
Irish, Scottish are rich people because they’re mix of blood, but too mix of culture. Their cultures are complex, powerfull and astonishing

A greeting, my celt friends

eleute February 18, 2007 at 5:31 am
Mike February 21, 2007 at 8:20 pm

michael posted: “Irish mythology speaks of a migration from northwest Spain.”

I don’t see what planet he comes from but the Milesians invaded Ireland from just a minority and imposed their language on the mesolithic red-haired and blond people of Ireland from Galicia. The Milesians come from Galicia and Galicia is a celtic nation so I don’t think how it should be a mythology in any sense since Irish genes come from Galicia.

If you really want to get more info:

Michael February 26, 2007 at 7:41 pm

One word… “bagpipe”

hhhhh February 27, 2007 at 10:06 am

errr, the indigenous people of ireland were not all blond or red haired, you are sounding like a nordicist mike.

The indigenous people of ireland were mainly brown haired and blue eyed brunn racial types with a minority atlanto meditreranean phenotype arrivin gin the mesolithic. there may have been some red hedds in ireland in the mesolithic too and maybe some blondes but even today the vast majority of irish people have dark brown hair with either blue or mixed or green hazel eyes and occasionally pure brown eyes.

blonde hair is rare in ireland and found most frequently in the north east and in the former viking towns for obvious reasons.

galicians are genetically very different to the irish and the milesians were unliklely to have left much genetic impact at all.

galicians are about 56% r1b, ireland is 85-90% r1b. The basques however are 95% r1b and live in north eastern spain and south western france and have no connection what so ever with celts so like it or not the irish are not descnded from celts but rath paleolithic human beings who moved north from the iberian ice refuge and repeatedly arrived in waves from 15000 years ago to 7000 years ago.

frank March 7, 2007 at 10:12 pm

The political notion that the “Basque people” who are in fact a mixture
of Iberian composite want independence from Spain is a false one!

Polls periodically conducted by the Basque autonomous government
in Vitoria, demonstrate that a large percentage of Basque, are very
comfortable with their greater Spanish idenity!

Only a small purality 10%-15% support the terrorist org. ETA .

Gerry November 8, 2007 at 6:55 pm

I think the majority of supposedly Irish Celts just got B&^%$-slapped [no abusive language - mod] and paddy wacked into thinking they were the majority of Milesians who inhabited Ireland. What makes me laugh are the Irish are so Superstitious in that they had a bogus historian scholar such as T. F. O’Rahilly who did not understand genetics at the time and it was not in his field of Science/genetics to do so. It has only recently come to light that the Irish are of Mesolithic inhabitants and only a minority of neolithic to bronze age inhabitants introduced the Celtic language.

Seighean March 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm

There are at least 30 words in Gaelic that are the same in Basque; Muine-Muino- a hill, Art-(H)artza- a Bear, Maith-Maite- Good/beloved, Ur-Ur-old Irish for water/moist, Aite-Aita- old Irish foster father, to show a few. Linguists may say they are borrowings but there are many Gaelic words in English spoken in Ireland which are a residue from the older language; Galore- go leor,Smashing- Is maith sin, Gob-mouth, smithereens- smidirini etc, get the picture? We are good at dropping the old languages! Ongi ibili!

Paul June 20, 2010 at 4:48 am

So, let me see if I get this straight. The Mesolithic inhabitants of Spain/Portugal, from whom the Basques are a remnant, invaded Ireland, thus creating the basis of the populace. So we might be talking about two different Celtic groups.
One originating in Central Europe that gradually moved westward.
And another thought to be also Celtic because the Romans thus named them, but which in reality were not connected to the Eastern Celts, well at least not ethnically.
So the languages spoken by natives in the British Isles and pre-Roman Iberians should have some similarities. Now, I am not sure how close the languages of Ireland/Wales are to the Gaul’s. But maybe they shouldn’t be too close unless a later wave of Central European Celts migrated to the Isles thus adding some of their language.
The interesting thing is that when studying Celtic history, it is mentioned that the Celts of Portugal/Spain developed a separate cultural traits from the La Tene culture.
Also, many Gauls were described as being blonde and fair by the Romans, which set them appart from Ireland/Portugal/Spain types a bit.
Another interesting thing is the use of bag pipes in the Isles. Bag pipes are also used in Portugal/Spain and in other Mediterranean countries, but I never heard of the Gauls using bag pipes!
So maybe we should call ourselves Celts, and Central Europeans, Kelts ;) so we can differentiate between the two groups.

There is also an interesting article found in this link:

Chris Drakes June 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm

My Mtd-DNA comes from my great great grandmother Ellen Mary O’Regan (c1832/4-1913) of Adare, Limerick, Ireland and is Arab. My overall DNA comparison with current world populations shows a primary match with Andalusians, plus Catalonians, Portuguese & Basque, as well as Moroccan Berber & Algerian Mozabite (who were The Moors that invaded Spain). These results imply a recent link to my ancestry. I suspect that it comes from the Napoleonic Wars in the Iberian Peninsula, when the British Army was using a considerable number of Irish troops. Presumably her father, William O’Regan, a cooper, was serving in the region and brought back Ellen’s mother to Ireland? I appreciate that the Vikings traded with the Arabs and liked Arab girls; there was trade between the region and Ireland during the Iron Age; some girls may have survived the Spanish Armada, since the ships had officer’s families and staff as well as troops. However, all these are too distant for me to have 27% DNA from the Iberian Peninsula today.

Lisa July 8, 2010 at 7:03 am

I read with great interest Chris Drakes comments. I have never known my Fathers family , only they were Irish and his mother was Grace Reagan and Father Will Rogers. My mother is white English . I am constantly asked if I am Spanish, Mixed race, etc. I started looking into Irish history in an attempt to discover my heritage. I have black curley hair, dark skin ,dark blue eyes and a bulid more in line with Spanish/mixed race women. How do I go about discovering my true DNA?

Pearse Kelly July 15, 2010 at 6:37 am

Naw i think my family just grew out of irish soil

Juan Antonio July 17, 2010 at 7:37 am

Yes, asier, it is very humilliating how the Spanish government have opressed you over the centuries, granting you all kind of privileges over the rest of the population in the rest of Spain… The so called basque nationalists are ingnorant people who did not go out from their small village in their whole life. The basque politicians have been poisoning the basque people with lies over the past thirty years but now, their time is over and when the basque people go out from the basque country and mix up whith the rest of the Spanish people they realise that we are not “devils” (as they were told) but their true family and the only people in the world that would be worried and help them if some kind of disaster happened there. We, in Spain, are a big and proud family, and our local cultures form part of something more important which is the Hispanic culture …And basques of all times like Diego López de Haro, Pedro López de Ayala, Juan Sebastián Elcano, Legazpi, Urdaneta, Ignacio de Loyola, los Oquendo, BLAS DE LEZO, Churruca, Arriaga, Zumalacárregui, Unamuno, Maeztu, Baroja, Zuloaga, Zubiri , etc
knew that years (some of them centuries) before you and your stupid mentors were born…

Lisa July 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This is very interesting to read, I have been trying to find information on this. My boyfriend is Irish and his whole family has olive skin, almost black hair and blue or green eyes. Would be interesting to know where this comes from!

Edith Wynne July 26, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Okay so who knows where the spainish influence originated? Northern Africa? Berbers? Any ideas there? My mother’s dad was Manx and she had olive skin was short had black hair and a big nose …I have heard that some of the Irish and more Norse part of the Isle of Man ihas taller pointy nosed, far haired light eyed people. This I find intriuing becasue people call them the Irish influenced ones…but if the Irish are also Spainish then where does tht elave thinigs? Who are these extra dark manx folks?

Finbar July 31, 2010 at 2:52 pm

My mtDNA is H6a1a and my yDNA is R1b1b2a1b5.

If there are any male O Mahonys out there join us in the yDNA surname project at FTDNA. You can get details on

My “ancestral origins” just point to a very ancient journey to Ireland. Any “matches” out there? What I know is that we were probably here in Tir na hEireann to welcome the “Celts” if they came here,

Matiegu August 1, 2010 at 8:58 am

These findings make sense and are well known, the substrate of Ireland and the Iberian peninsula is old and probably mesolithic, a time when Iberia and the southwest of Ireland were some of the few places were the ice caps hadn´t touched. But it´s amusing to see the obsession, particularly from Americans, about genes, DNA, features and ancestry (I even met an American that called himself ´Viking-American´ for crying out loud!).To talk about celtic vs spanish is flawed from the beginning. It widely acepted that the term ´celtic´relates more to a cultural influence than a notion of ´race´. To say a person is celtic or spanish in terms of DNA is nonsense because Spanish doesn´t relate to a race either. My race is not ´Spanish´that´s my nationality. If being Spanish means to have a ´tan´then how about the blondes and blue eyed Spaniards, are we less Spanish or should we start to be called ´celts´ or some other made-up race.The same way that the archetypical Irish is not blonde or red haired not everybody in Spain has dark features for exactly the same reasons. Northwest Spain had a strong celtic influence but the substrate was Iberian and nobody here says that the people from northwest Spain are celts. Something very similar to the Irish. The Irish are Irish. The Spanish Spanish. Don´t get to obssessed about these things.

Jack Gilleece August 6, 2010 at 5:57 am

Dont know if this is interesting but my family tell me that the origin of our name comes from Galicia. Used to have a D in front (D-Gilleece) meaning “of Galicia” and possibly from survivors of the armada, a name that the locals gave them?

C O'Neill August 12, 2010 at 9:50 am

“The Irish are Irish.The Spanish, Spanish. Don’t get too obsessed about these things”. Matiegu, to be intensely interested in one’s history,heritage and culture and even to find it facinating, is not to be obsessed. An obsession has a real medical definition.

mattus August 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

The largest cultural saturation of Celtic civilization can be found in Portugal and Spain, and not in Central Europe or the isles. We’re talking about entire towns, artifacts and written Celtic Languages. This tells me that Portugal and Spain is the true Celtic homeland. I think it’s time for all the new age folk to find a new hobby and time for a rethinking about who the Celts really are.

Catharine O'Carroll August 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Like several of the other commentators, my background is Irish, and I have always considered myself of Irish descent; however, but I belong to a DNA project group, and have been contacted by other people with both high and low DNA profile matches, the majority of whom are Spanish.

claudia September 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I don´t know what you know about Spain; to me and to all spanish children tell us in the school that the iberian peninsula was divided into two civilizations (pre-romanas): upper half, celtic; mediterranean coastline and southern, iberians…So what´s the meaning of “more spanish than celts”? Do you think that the Celts were blond with blue eyes? I think that’s one contribution more germanic (or nordic, or wathever you call) than celtic… anyway, i´m proud to be spaniard, sorry for my english, ciao.

Naughtius September 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

So what if Irish people have dark features, don’t many work outdoors, fishing and farming etc
The red hair stereotype is nonsense, also the people in question probably didn’t call themselves celts, its a linguistic term.

Valcarcel October 20, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I am a Cuban-born American of all-Spanish (Galician) ancenstry. Unfortunately “mis-applied labels” can only tear people down and cause needless rifts.

I will admit that I’ve always had an unexplained love for overcast cool maritime climates, and mist-drenched pine covered slopes that crash into the sea. There is a good chance that some above share a similar sentiment. If you do too, should we try to understand the greatness of that, where it comes from, and celebrate it more?

-Incredible comments and observations by all above. Many thanks to all for sharing your remarks.

viriato November 10, 2010 at 5:19 am

En españa el pelo negro es raro y la piel oscura tambien
los niños españoles rubios son muy abundantes,
Pelo negro y piel morena es sinonimo de gitano para los españoles.
La proporcion de ojos verdes en españa es la mayor del mundo, por delante de escandinavia.
el pelo negro es españa se asocia a la llegada de los escandinavos godos
Iberia y francia sur son semajantes, su lenguaje antiguo es comun y sus costumbres tambien
el r1b1 en iberia lleva cerca de 40000 años ,siendo el autentico repoblador de todas las tierras europeas del norte y del oeste, no solo islas britanicas

Killarney Tour Guide November 17, 2010 at 6:31 am

Here a link to the original study by Trinity College Dublin:

Marisa Sutherland January 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm

There are more people with dark hair in the Basque region that in the rest of Spain. Even in the south there are a lot of blonds. England, Germany, France, the Scandinavian Countries, and Italy have people with darker hair and eye color than Spain.
My hair color is light brown, green eyes, was born in Madrid, and I think it is unimportant what color of skin or hair people are born with.
I hope that Spain doesn’t copy the discriminatory practices of other countries.
People should be treated by their personality and values, not by the color of their skin.
By the way, I have met a lot of dumb blonds, both male and female in my travels.

Chris Drakes February 6, 2011 at 10:58 am

Further to my comment on 23 June 2010, there seems to be a great deal of confusion between ethnicity and cultural origins in the comments after my last entry. If anyone is interested in getting their DNA tested to see their true ethnic origins, please see the DNA pages on my website for help:
Though the Pheonicians were trading with Ireland in the Bronze Age, and many Spanish were shipwrecked off the Irish coast after the ‘Spanish Armada’ failed, these are too long ago to be relevant. After the ‘Spanish Armada’ many Spanish leaders and soldiers were captured in Ireland and hanged, but these ships also contained the entire ‘Courts’ of those leaders (who had expected to be running England immediately after their invasion) – surely not all the members of ‘Court’ and servants were slain? Some of them may have inter-bred, thus maintaining a significant amount of their ethnic DNA to the present day?
For anyone to have more 3% (or more) of any ethnic DNA today, their ancestor(s) who had a significant amount of that DNA must have lived within the last 5 generations.
It is of possible relevance that the British Army used many Irish soldiers and sailors in the Iberian Campaign (Portugal & Spain) against Napoleon, as this falls within these 5 generations. Perhaps many such Irishmen brought back Spanish or Portuguese wives?
The present-day Spanish & Irish also have a lot of Morroccan Berber and Algerian Mozabite DNA – this originally came from the Moors who invaded Spain in the late 15th and ealy 16th centuries, and who last occupied Adalusia. North Africans had imigrated into Spain for thousands of years before then, and still do today.
The only older provable DNA traces are direct-male (Y-DNA) & direct-female (Mt-DNA) lines. Please see my website for further explanation.
I hope that this is of some interest and help in this discussion.

Chris Drakes February 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I’ve just found the following, which I thought might be of interest in this discussion:

Traditionally, the ancient kings of Ireland were descended from King Milesius of Spain, the grandson of Breogham (Brian), King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile and Portugal. Milesius, a great general/king, was instrumental in defending Egypt from the King of Ethiopia. Milesius turned his attention northward to Ireland to fulfill an ancient druidic prophecy. He sent an army with his son to explore this fertile land. On finding that the three resident Irish kings (the Danans) had murdered his son Milesius gathered another army to take his revenge on the Irish. He died before he embarked on the trip. His remaining eight sons conquered Ireland.

For full text see:

Mark Stanley February 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Another thing they don’t take into account is the large number of Spanish who were marooned in Ireland after the Spanish Armada failed. This could explain a lot of the genetic mix AND the “black Irish.” Surprised this isn’t mentioned in the article. Whatever the case, no matter the origins, the Irish have absorbed Celtic culture to the point that it really doesn’t matter what their origins were. Stone age people ALL spread out from Africa. Does that make everyone African?

Bebe February 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I was listening to a CD which was comprised of traditional folk tunes from all the countries that made up “former Yugoslavia”, and couldn’t believe what I was hearing! A few of the Slovenian songs sounded like they were a combination of Irish and Scottish, with actual bagpipes. This may be a trace of the Celtic invasion in the 4th century B.C. Their bagpipes are made of goatskin, while the bagpipes in Scotland are made of sheepskin Also, they have uncovered a large number of Celtic artifacts in Slovenia. Bagpipes are also found throughout the Mediterranean region. Interesting………

ray rodriguez February 18, 2011 at 7:22 am

I have explored the genetic inherent character traits of Spain and the exploration goes to the Noah and Adam and Eve timelines. Timelines are compared and confirmed w/ Native American oral tradition and through the begining of the Mayan Calendar of 3113Bce. Conclusion: the Celts and the Minoans are the first Spaniards followed by the Visigoth and the Moors.

Paulo March 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

Something seems to come up again and again in this forum that people that are dark skinned or dark haired have to come from the middle east. That can’t be farther away from the truth. Many asian populations have dark features and clearly they are not from the middle east. The same holds for very white people doesn’t have to come from Europe. There are blonds originating in North Africa, or the pacific or even Native Americans. Where people get that idea from, that dark people have to come from the Middle East or North Africa, it’s a mistery!
Spanish and Portuguese people clearly are dark haired for the most part. That doesn’t mean they come from North Africa. It’s the climate and the environment that sculptured our physical legacy, not our origins or our culture. They could originate from anywhere, from central Asia, to Scandinavia. But not North Africa. North African genes are mostly E, Spain and Portugal is clearly Rb1 like most of Western Europe.
So people, stop associating apples to oranges.

mary March 9, 2011 at 12:17 am

my mother always told me her mother told her we came from spanish kings and she called us “black irish”–my mother is 100% irish–my grandmother came to america in the late 1800′s from county cork Ireland (100% irish). I want to find out more about this—I believe what my mother told me to be true–she knew nothing about her heritage , not much about Irish history, raised in the days you do not question, you do not investigate–I on the other hand love heritage, and want to know as much as I can about this. I honestly feel there has to be something to the “rumor”. I believe my grandmother knew what she was talking about -be it from talk from her parents or whatever–they did not have the tools to investigate or probe their past as we have today–many of the history was passed down from generation to generation by voice–at this point that is all I have as these people were long gone before I was born.

Matthew March 19, 2011 at 7:03 am

what puzzles me is that the british don’t look mediterranean.
So on a pure instinct level this spanish link seems wrong, people look at british peoples faces and see the finer features and do not assosiate with the mediterraneans who have the heavier features.
This puzzles me, the only explaination is that maybe the basque of spain had less strong features.

Goatee April 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

Celtiberian is the race of the Spanish people in the Iberian Peninsula,Spain. The Irish,Welsh,and Scottish people are defendants of the Spanish people. Their culture comes from the Spanish People. We are the same people, and Spain is the Mother Land and Crib of Europe!

Goatee April 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

Irish, Welch and Scottish people are the decendants of the Spanish people in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is their Mother Land. They are the same people, Spains History proves that fact, also the DNA R1b comes from Spain the Iberian Peninsula, and all the Irish, Welch, and Scottish people are of the DNA, R1b, which comes from the Spamish people.

Goatee April 4, 2011 at 7:25 am

The Y-Chromosone haplogroup is called R1 b, that DNA is found in the genes of the Spanish and Portuguese men, in which the Irish, Welch and Scottish men inherited from.

Goatee April 4, 2011 at 7:36 am

Subject: Spencer Wells on the subject of R1b.

Check out this video on YouTube:

Sierra May 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

My family all claim Irish heritage, However, we have strong ties to both Greek and Spanish family. My hair is shiny jet black, quite curly ringletty type, and I have blue eyes. In summer my skin tans to olive. When I go to Spain I get mistaken for a native.

Galician May 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm

There seems to be a general confusion about Spain. I’m a Galician: dark hair, green/hazel eyes, a standard Galician. There are a few blonds around, for sure, probably from the Suevians or the Buri the 4th century Germanic tribes that move here and are part (small part) of a genetic makeup. But Spain has little in common with North Africa. The strait has been a genetic barrier. In any genetic map I’ve seen, the Spanish cluster with the Southern French, the Swiss and the rest of the Europeans, all of the them far from the Finnish for example. In some aspects the Spaniards are similar to the inhabitants of the British Islands. Our Arab (7th century) blood is around 6%, 10% in the South, our Germanic blood (4th, 5th ) goes from 10% to 25% percent depending where you go. Most Germans have dark hair by the way. Our darker color reflects our latitude as it should be. We tan during summer and look paler during winter, like everybody else. When I’ve been to Britain I realized how many English people could pass for Spaniards, if you take away their funny accents and their customs and the general lack of sunny days.

Before the Romans came 2 thirds of the Iberian peninsula spoke Celtic languages – we still have jewels and a few stone inscriptions in those language – 2000 years is not that much. Around a couple of dozen of towns and villages in the Iberian peninsula still show their Celtic names: Segovia (Segobriga), Coimbra (Conimbriga), from briga, town, being the most famous. But we are not genetically Celts, neither are the Irish or the Scottish or the French. If the Celtic tribes ever were a genetic group they didn’t affect much our genetic make-up, neither they did in the British Islands. We are mostly R1b (from 65% to 95%, depending where you go), not different from the British. We also have, besides the Germanic blood, Northern African and Middle Eastern blood, but not from recent invasions but probably from thousands of years ago, the same blood that also shows in the Western Atlantic European facade in less percentage.

My advice: get your facts straight, educate yourself, and get rid of your childish prejudices. We live too close to be THAT different.

The comments about the Spanish Armada ever affecting the genetic makeup in Ireland is pure rubbish. Most of the armada made it back to Spain and if any of those sailors ever remained in Ireland had to reproduce like crazy rabbit to even affect the smallest villages in Ireland. If the Irish and the British and many other Western Europeans have Spanish features is probably because 13.000 years ago nobody was leaving on the Ices of Northern Europe and after that blood move north not south and because Spain is not that far from Ireland or England and it has been for centuries a general contact between those countries, similar stone-age monuments, etc.

As for the bagpipes being Celtic… How do you prove that?

Fintan May 15, 2011 at 7:10 am

All of western and north western Europe was repoupulated from Iberia after the last ice age. The Irish are most closely related to, British, Northern French, Belgic and Dutch, and the Germans on the west bank of the Rhine, in that order. Geneticaly the Irish cluster further away from Iberia than the the others. This obeys a simple rule, the further away two populations are geographically, the greater the difference in their autosomnal dna.
The confusion regarding an intimate connection between Ireland and Iberia arose in the early days of the Y chromosome haplogroup surveys, 1998- 2004. At that time it was noticed that Ireland and western Britain were heavily ,80-90%, haplogroup R1B, qually high levels of R1B were found in northern Iberia. Today we have much higher resolution testing of subclades of haplogroups, and as a result the intimate connection between Ireland and Iberia is broken. Subclades of R1B are different in Ireland and Iberia, the most frequent subclade found in Ireland R1B L21, also has high frequencies among the British, including the English, Northern French , and southern Dutch, and to a lesser extent among the Fresians , Danish and North Germans, it is only found at a vanishing low rate among Iberians. If the Irish are looking for a point of origin, then the present genetic maps point to the mid Rhineland with an expansion into northern France and the lowlands and finally into Britain and Ireland.

Timbo June 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

This is a very interesting topic, but I think that whatever people say, it throws up more questions than answers, certainly at this time anyway. Many Irish, Scottish and Welsh people tend to see themselves as Celtic, and ethnically different from their English neighbours. People always want simplistic answers, that fit cosily into simplistic notions and ideas of race and nationality, and so on, but the truth, as ever, seems more complicated.

According to some researchers, perhaps Irish people, and maybe this goes for Welsh and Scottish people too, are not necessarily purely Celtic, whatever that term really means anyway. When people talk about ‘Celtic’ races, for some reason people get all misty-eyed and romantic, and have this myth of a unified race of people playing bagpipes, drinking whisky (whiskey even!), having red hair and green or blue eyes. This seems to me, at best, a kind of folk myth that may, or may not, hold water; but who can say?

Are we ever going to find the truth, without biased interpretation, or interpretations from people who don’t want their cosy notions challenged, for one reason or another? Just who were, or are, the Celts, and were can their descendants be found?

Please check out this website (not mine) for an interesting overview of all things Celtic (or supposedly) in Europe.

Anyone who wants to contact me about this (even though I am by no means an expert on this) feel free to do so.

Timbo June 5, 2011 at 8:48 am

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