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Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?

Cruiser 04 Dec 03 - 12:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Dec 03 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Philippa 04 Dec 03 - 03:21 PM
MBSLynne 04 Dec 03 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Clint Keller 04 Dec 03 - 04:24 PM
TheBigPinkLad 04 Dec 03 - 04:29 PM
CapriUni 04 Dec 03 - 04:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Dec 03 - 04:44 PM
GUEST,Annegi 04 Dec 03 - 04:44 PM
mack/misophist 04 Dec 03 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 04 Dec 03 - 04:49 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 04 Dec 03 - 07:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Dec 03 - 08:39 PM
mg 04 Dec 03 - 09:00 PM
Brakn 05 Dec 03 - 04:36 AM
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ard mhacha 05 Dec 03 - 06:52 AM
The O'Meara 05 Dec 03 - 08:10 AM
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mooman 05 Dec 03 - 10:06 AM
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hobbitwoman 06 Dec 03 - 11:02 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Cruiser
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 12:47 PM

I did a search here on Mudcat and found many interesting references to the term Black Irish. The relevant threads are often hidden in other messages (as thread-creep) so I thought I would try to consolidate some opinions, if not unanimity, of the term's derivation here, if possible.

There are several excellent posts, one at:

0.7742 - Thread - Message - RE: ??Who WAS the 'Brown Girl' - Feb 8 2000 4:12PM -   McGrath of Harlow

A good Link From Wolfgang @:

One long explanation:

Black Irish

The derivations vary from hair color, mood, potato famine, etc., to ethnicity.

So, is there a Mudcatter consensus (not asking much, huh?) on the meaning of the term Black Irish or are it's etymologies forever obscured, as with so many other terms, phrases, and songs?

Cruiser


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 02:59 PM

Kipling used the term in "Soldiers Three," 1888: Those are the black Oirish and 'tis they that bring dishgrace upon the name of Oireland."
More recently, J. B. Priestly said "He was a black Irish type, with centuries of rebelliousness behind him."

The Oxford English Dictionary defines black Irish as Irish of Mediterranean appearance (This was the definition in the Irish section of my family).

I was told by an Ulsterman that it applied to the Catholics.

Lace-curtain Irish?
Shanty Irish ?
Bog Irish?
Nylon-curtain Irish ? Relatively new, applied in U. S.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 03:21 PM

I once came across a book called the "Black Irish of Jamaica", so to me "Black Irish" are people with dark skin and both Irish and African ancestry. (I suppose we all have African ancestry, but I don't mean as far back as that ...)

so there goes consensus even on the meaning of the term!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: MBSLynne
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 03:53 PM

When I've read the term the context has always led me to believe it meant black-haired. I've heard it used to distinguish one set of Irish from the "Red Irish". I guess in these references it means the Irish of different ancestral origin.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Clint Keller
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:24 PM

In my family the "Black" referred to hair color. Usually included pale skin & blue eyes, like my mother.

clint


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:29 PM

I'd like to hear what one of our Irish-speaking bretheren has to say about the word 'dubh' and if it has any connection.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: CapriUni
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:36 PM

I always understood the term to mean those Irish folks with dark or black hair, as well, and a slightly darker complexion than the red-headed Irish (Light tan, rather than pink-white)... but neither of African nor of Mediterranean descent, which are some of the theories explored in the link above.

According to my mother (I think she's the one who introduced me to the term... she's 13 years dead, so I can't double-check -- and I'm not sure where the information came from, in any case), they are descendants of the ancient Celts who inhabited the islands before the fairer-complexioned Norse invaded and set up trading posts in the southeast.

The article above was the first place I'd seen the "Survivors of the Spanish Armada" theory. As someone who's dabbled a bit into Irish mytholothy, however, I recognize the Spanish from "The Book of Invasions," which was a mix of history, legend and mythology compiled by monks in the 12th century. According to this "Book", the Tuatha de Danaan, a god-like people who helped shape the landscape of Ireland, came to Ireland by way of Spain (the monks were redacting Irish myth to fit it into Biblical and political history) -- certainly a lot earlier than the Spanish Armada! The Tuatha later built and retreated into the "fairy mounds" when they lost the battle with humans over control of the land (they survive today as the "fairies" or "Fair Folk" in more recent folklore).

Now, it's just my hunch, but if this "survivor of the Spanish Armada" does stem from an imperfect memory of a small detail in a 12th century text, it might lend support to the idea that the "Black (haired) Irish" are indeed descendents of early natives of the islands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:44 PM

It means different things. When it's referring to hair colour (which is probably the nost common sense, historically anyway) it'd mean the sort of jet-black hair colouring you see sometimes, which tends to go with a skin that looks paler, if anything - possibly an optical illusion because of the contrast.

But it'd equally be used in a different sense to refer to a fierce kind of person, not so much a flaring up sort of anger, but rather the unrelenting kind.

And then more recently it's used in the same sense as in Black American or Black British, to mean people with some Afro-Caribbean ancestry.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Annegi
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:44 PM

My grandfather cam fromConnemara and it was always thought in my family that the term came from the Spaniards, part the Armada, shipwrecked on their journey home - going round the west of Ireland. A name in our family is De Lapp was said to have derived from these ancestors. All of our family are the black haired variety!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:48 PM

My grandmother was from Dublin. She used 'Black Irish' to refer to native Irish whose ancestors came from elsewhere. I know a man from County Clare who uses it to refer to Irish with a mediterranean complection. And I've seen several other usages in print. In other words, I don't believe there is as concensus, except perhaps locally.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 04:49 PM

some have postulated it goes back farther than the Armada to the Ibero-Celts who came to Ireland and displaced the Tuatha de Danaan already here. always meant black hair, blues eyes and fair skin to describe a type of Irish features, as opposed to freckled red or strawberry blond folk.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 07:11 PM

Bill, that describes my mother exactly and she always referred to herself as Black Irish- and told the Spanish Armada story!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 08:39 PM

Mediterranean as a 'racial' type no longer has much meaning, but in the first half of the 20th century it also meant dolichocephalic head shape (on the long side, front to back measurement visibly longer than from side to side, cephalic index less than 75), usually long face, rather broad nose, dark brown or black hair, slender form, medium height, finer bone structure than central Europeans, and less trouble with ingrown toenails among other things. (I have just roughly described myself; Mediterranean from two sources, Spanish and black Irish, from three of four sets of grandparents).

These ideas came into disrepute and became politically incorrect as a result of Hitler elevating the Nordic race to the top of the heap.
Forensic anthropologists still measure these characteristics but do not to refer to them as 'racial' as was done before WW2. DNA nowadays has refined their methods.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mg
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 09:00 PM

I always heard the Spanish Armada theory. You wouldn't know it by looking at me, because I take after my mother's Welsh side of the family, but I am descended from the black Irish..I think it just means they have the black curly hair. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Brakn
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 04:36 AM

I've only ever heard the word black used to describe Orangemen in the North. If you were in a black area it would be staunch Protestant.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 06:03 AM

"Black Protestant" - now that's similar to the second meaning I gave, to do with being "a fierce kind of person, not so much a flaring up sort of anger, but rather the unrelenting kind". But unjustifiably extended to cover a whole group in this case.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 06:52 AM

Never ever used in this north-east part of Ireland, various large clans like the Laverys used Ban [fair] and Rua [red] along with a large assortment of nicknames, to distinguish families in the Clan, I never heard Dubh used. Ard Mhacha..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: The O'Meara
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 08:10 AM

My father and grandfather and grandmother were black-haired blue-eyed folk, and were called Black Irish by the St.Paul MN Irish community. (Grandfather came over from Tipperary). My mother was ginger-haired Norwegian/Irish. I turned out to be stereotypicaly red haired, Green eyed, and fishbelly white skinned.

Um...what were we talking about again now?

O'Meara


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Fiolar
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 08:32 AM

I always understood that "black Irish" was used in relation to hair colour, creamy white skin and blue eyes as distinct from the red-haired, usually green-eyed and freckled skin folk. "Dubh" in Irish when used in relation to people usually means "dark-haired" as in the songs "Bean Dubh a' Gleanna" (the Dark-Haired Woman of the Glen) and "An Buachaill Caol Dubh" (the Dark-Haired slender boy). Likewise "Rua" rather "dearg" refers to "red-haired" as in "Bean an Fir Rua" (The Red-Haired Man's Wife).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Cluin
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 08:58 AM

`Tis all a fierce pile of bog.

Black Irish refers to a particular beverage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mooman
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 10:06 AM

My family were sometimes referred to as "Black Irish". Indeed, a large part of the family is descended from Spanish armada survivors very close to the west coast in Sligo and a great many of my relatives (including my mother and several of her brothers and sisters) retained strong, sallow Southern Spanish looks with brown eyes and black hair. I used to have the black hair (see old photo in photos section!) and the brown eyes but otherwise have the more typical Irish skin type and colour (i.e. I cannot go out in the sun at all!).

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 05:05 PM

My father's parents came to the US from County Mayo. The explanation I've always heard from that side of my family is that the "Black Irish" -- black-haired, with eyes and complexions that may or may not be darker than those of other Irish -- were descendants of Spanish sailors who found refuge and sympathy in Irish port cities during various conflicts between Catholic Spain and Protestant England, especially during the 16th & 17th centuries.

I find this theory pretty persuasive. It may have been my imagination, but during my recent first-time-ever, only-one-week-long visit to Ireland, I'm sure that I noticed more locals conforming to this physical description in Galway city (an important port in post-Reformation times) than anywhere in the nearby, more rural, areas of the West of Ireland that we visited. I was especially taken back to observe many of these semi-Mediterranean-looking types speaking Irish!

I'd be willing to bet that there are also plenty of Spanish/Irish-looking natives of Cork.

Of course, the same two words "Black Irish" can also be logically applied to people of part-Irish/part-African ancestry, or to Irish residents/citizens of any African or part-African genetic heritage. There are probably many more such folks than many would imagine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 05 Dec 03 - 09:38 PM

In our family black Irish was always understood to mean those descended from the Spaniards and the Normans, with black or dark hair. I have light skin and blue eyes, and I used to have dark hair as well, but oddly enough, the older I get the redder it gets! ;o) Go figure!!

My maiden name was Browne... and as far as I know my dad's people come from Sligo and my mom's from Mayo. We believe the Brownes were originally De Bruns who came to Ireland during the Norman invasion.

Unfortunately I'm not related to any Brownes who ever made any money - like Jackson or Sylvia!

Annie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: LadyJean
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 12:04 AM

I inherited my father's black hair and dark complexion. (I remember as a child, on the playground of a lily white prep school, being asked if I was African American.) I was told that I was black Irish, and a descendent of the Spanish Armada.
I have read enough about the Armada, in part because of what my parents told me, to know that it wasn't true.
I saw a bust of a Roman general once. I don't remember the guy's name, but he could have been my father's twin.
Dad was Irish Protestant, not Italian.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 09:08 AM

Hobbitwoman ,Have you checked out whether you might be connected to Admiral William Browne ,a native of Foxford Co Mayo and founder of the Argentine navy?
Sorry for the thread creep


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 01:14 PM

There where few if any survivors from the Armada, those that did make it ashore were killed by the natives, Sir Richard Bingham Governor of Connaught had any natives executed who gave refuge to the Spanish.
The only known Spaniards who were ransomed were Don Luis de Cordova and his nephew this after a long negotiation.

Captain Francisco Cuellar after many narrow escapes, made his way to Scotland
[aided by Irish Chieftains McClancy, O Rourke, and O Neill].

Cuellar eventually made it back to Spain, he being the only one who lived to tell the tale.

Only in North-West Ireland, where the Irish Chieftains had retained some independence of English rule, did those hapless Spaniards receive some shelter.
In Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry, the Irish were so fearful of their English overlords that no aid was given to the exhausted survivors.

An English offical recorded, "Spaniards drowned 5,600, Spaniards slain and executed 1,000.

The people on this thread should look elsewhere as for the reason for their dark complexions, certainly it has nothing to do with any of the poor wretches that met such a terrible fate along Ireland`s western shore. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 01:21 PM

I've seen a reference recently (was it in a book review in last weekend's newspaper? -- I only ever buy a paper on Saturday) which suggested that the Armada theory was unlikely. Not that there are no Irish with Spanish ancestry, but that it's much more likely to be the result of Spanish/Irish trade than the Armada.

My wife has always claimed Armada-Spanish-Irish descent through her father, surnamed Dyas (ex Diaz?); when I pointed out the article to her, she merely shrugged.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 03:14 PM

It seems much more likely that most Spanish-Irish ancestors would be from trade links and so forth over the past few thousand years rather than that unpleasant business in 1588.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 03:18 PM

Just to throw a Spaniard in the works (pun intended). Ever seen a peat bog? I hadn't heard the term but the thing that instantly sprang to mind was the black mud of a peat bog. Could it not be as simple as black = bog? So black Irish could be the same as bog Irish?

Just a thought...

DtG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 11:02 PM

No, Guest, I haven't - but it could be interesting! As far as I know - and I'm taking this on my sister's word, as she's the one who did the research - my dad's side of the family - the Brownes - came from Co. Sligo. My mom's people were from Mayo.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Fiolar
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 08:35 AM

Sorry Dave. Not all peat is black. Quite a fair amount of it is dark brown especially near the surface. It's only really black when you go fairly deep. The appelation "Bog Irish" was only ever meant as an insult. Very few Irish, if any, ever lived in a bog, which was only used as a source of fuel bearing in mind that coal mines as such are few and far between in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mooman
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 09:59 AM

Certainty is something you cannot assert on this subject Ard Mhacha! There is evidence to the contrary, certainly in the NW part of Ireland my family is from. As others have pointed out, there were centuries of trade between West of Ireland seaports and the Iberian penisular as well.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 12:15 PM

Thre was trade between all of the European countries and it is possible that there was plenty of lusty sailors doing there own form of trading.
I was always amazed on my visits to my US relations to hear them assert there swarthy complexions on the Spanish Armada, it didn`t matter to them that the Spanish ships went down a long way from Armagh.                                                            They were not alone in this as I found most citizens of the US kept telling me of their native american ancestory,there were not pleased when I told them they should have gone easy on the hamburgers, romancing instead of looking at the true picture seemed to be prevelant. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 04:00 PM

Further information on Google, type Ireland graveyard of the Spanish Armada by T.P. Kilfeather. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Glen Reid
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 06:50 PM

My fathers people came from the north of Ireland and reffered to themselves as Black Irish, they were also staunch Protestant.
Glen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mg
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 12:16 AM

well, well...I am from the black Irish on my father's side and have some Native American ancestry on my mother's..as do very many Americans. mg--------


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 03:54 AM

I have lived here in the north for wellover half a century and black was only used in a derogatory sense, referring to an RUC man as a black b, this had nothing to do with his looks, he could have been as fair as Ellen, and a black protestant referred to his bigotry.

All of this was far removed from the Spanish Armada, you have to laugh. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 04:12 AM

The term "the black North" to refer to the parts of Uster where there was Protestant hegemony dates back well before Partition. For example in this piece.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 04:40 AM

The quote in question from 1911 being: "Bunkum, friend Connolly; you are obsessed with an antipathy to Belfast and the black North..."

And here's another example from the same period (from a verse by Chesterton):

"The folk that live in black Belfast, their heart is in their mouth,
They see us making murders in the meadows of the South;
They think the plough's a rack, they do, and cattle calls are creeds,
And they think we're burnin' witches, when we're only burning weeds."


(And in both these cases the "black" may in fact refer to the smoky industrialised part of the North, as in the Black Country in England.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 12:36 PM

I'm a 55-year-old Irishman but never heard the term outside these Mudcat discussions!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 01:27 PM

I wonder if the brand name for that wonderful premium Bushmills whiskey, "Black Bush," comes from it's purportedly black-hearted Protestant legacy? (Yeah, I know, it's just a reference to the black label -- but why black?)

Despite my Catholic/Gaelic ancestry, I much prefer Bushmills to Jameson, and occasinally take some ribbing for my preference. (Tullamore Dew is my favorite distilled-in-the-Republic brand.)

I still believe the theory that Spanish sailors figure in the ancestry of those dark-haired "Black Irish." Even though there may not have been signifcant numbers of survivors from a particular final battle between the Armada and the English Crown, there was a long natural alliance between the Catholic Spanish establishment and the downtrodden people of Ireland, as well as plenty of trade through a number of ports including Cork and Galway. I don't believe for a minute that no children were begotten of any individual "alliances" between traveling Spaniards and Irishwomen.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 02:39 PM

Do you not realise An Pluimeir that living here has little sway with the members on this Site. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 03:24 PM

Face up to it, you redheaded and blond Irish, there are too many of us Black Irish. We were there first and you were the newcomers!

Celtic languages are closely allied to the Italic dialects (language cousins under the skin- See Encyclopaedia Britannica). The Celts were a racially mixed group only sharing a common language by the time they got to the islands. Didn't they get to Rome and Spain as well as NW Europe? I don't think that they were celibate.

It is more likely that Roman soldiers contributed more of their genes to the population than Spanish sailors and traders did later. Not all were blonds from the north of the Roman Empire; probably many were from south of Rome and remember that they had soldiers from Iberia as well. Aren't Mediterranean peoples supposed to be more sexually active than northerners?

Hair color of the Picts in the pre-Druidical islands? No one knows! Shure and wouldn't you expect some of their genes survived?

Hmmm, I should start another fakelore website. Just a touch of history and a pot full of speculation are all that are needed to convince most people.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: The O'Meara
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 08:31 AM

Someone with a scientific background in DNA research could probably prove this one way or another, but I think (Gasp!) not that many people worldwide are interested in the answer.

I myself, however, am something of an authority on Bushmill's Irish whiskey (consumption thereof) and note that Black Bush is so called because the color of the whiskey itself is considerably darker than Bushmills other varieties.

So there!


O'Meara


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 10:56 AM

O'Meara (and other Bushmills* lovers):

In a Cieran Carson's delightful book about Irish (and particularly Ulster) folk music, "Last Night's Fun," there's a great story about the legendary player who left instructions to be buried in a white tuxedo jacket with a half-bottle of Bush in the inside breast pocket.

I'm not sure, but I think it was the regular stuff, neither the black label nor the extra-aged single malt.

(* No apostrophe -- the little town where the world's oldest distillery is located is named Bushmills, with the "s.")

The Henehan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 12:43 PM

Yes, the 'black bush' is fine. A mite expensive here (and I guess everywhere)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 02:03 PM

A final footnote on the black Irish myth, I do my daily couple of miles walk every day with old friends and just for the craic I suggested that a certain person of our knowing was "black Irish", it wasn`t so much of a conversation stopper as a walk stopper.
"What the hell do you mean" was the retort of one and all, so I informed them of the going ons on this Thread,it was met with disbelief, the verdict was that it was a US concept, definitely not in vogue in any part of the north. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,twlord
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 02:36 PM

Very interesting, the black Irish..I was born and raised in Ireland, my father's family the O'Malleys of Westport, Co.Mayo had jet black hair and blue eyes, he married my mother, an O'Sullivan from West Cork and we, the family ended up with fair hair and green/blue eyes..you wonder. Personally, I've heard all my life it was the Armada theory, however, as an historian and professional Irish folk singer, I aggree with the theory of hundreds of years of trade with Spain and the rest of the Meditterranean. You never hear it mentioned in Ireland..TWLORD


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,mimi
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 12:01 AM

You are all a bunch of wankers!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Fiolar
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 09:48 AM

PoppaGator's story reminds me of the story about the Scottish Laird who on his death bed was giving instruction to his gillie that when he died he wanted a bottle of the best Scotch poured on his grave. The gille response was to say "Would ye na mind, sir, if it passed through me first?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 10:21 AM

I had always understood that the original celts were dark-haired and mainly blue-eyed. Yes, they spread throughout Europe from origins (or first appearance) in Hungary before 2000 bc, and the last populations survive in the west, mainly Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
Celts came to Scotland from Scotia (Ireland), supplanting Picts. The Pictish language was related, and therefore so were the Picts. Celtic is in fact a remote branch of Indo-European, related to Latin, of course, but distantly.

A recent BBC TV program on the Vikings tested DNA from various parts of the OK to try and identify the Danish influence in the UK population, and yes, in Mid-Wales they found very little Danish and a lot of Celtic. Unfortunately this didn't cover Ireland.

(Swansea area where I live has a fair amount of Viking ancestry, not surprisingly when the name is reckoned to be from Sweyn's Ey, an island formerly in the river. Sweyn was apparently Sven (pronounced Sweyn) Forkbeard)


(Don't know HOW they recognise Celtic DNA though. Danish they compared with Denmark, and other Viking areas)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 11:13 AM

Poor Mimi her tiny ass is frozen. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 11:49 AM

Leaving out the chaff, it comes down to the fact that we are a bunch of mongrels- like most other people.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Fiolar
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 09:18 AM

Guest: They did actually take two areas in Ireland for DNA testing. One was in the west of Ireland and the other was in a small town in Co Dublin. There was no evidence of Viking DNA in the west and less than was expected in the Dublin sample.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 02:04 PM

Fiolar you are right, the programme was repeated again on SKY TV History UK and they did take DNA samples in the two areas mentioned. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 10:36 PM

This thread is beginning to remind me of the song "All Mixed Up".

Annie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 04 - 09:57 AM

I have just read most of the contributions in this link and would like to add a little twist...

My Grandmother often spoke off of her fathers people coming over from Ireland, and has used the term "Black Irish" in reference to our prominent features. The name was O'Dempsey, later changed to just Dempsey. They apperently settled in Arkansas. We also have some native American (Cherokee) blood. In my research to sort out my geneologic history, I have also ran across the fact that back when they were forcing a lot of Cherokee to leave there land in the east, several of the mixed families claimed they were Black Irish, so that they could keep their land.

Has anyone else heard of this type of event?

jeffdavid.com


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jun 04 - 08:23 AM

49 years living in Ireland and never heard this term used except by returned emigrants that described described "black Irish" as a derogatory racist term.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 11:01 AM

I was adopted from a couple that came from Ireland. My mom sat me down one day and told me that both my biological parents came from Ireland and that they were what was called " black irish". I too have jet black hair and blue eyes, but I tan just thinking about the sun. Thanks to all on this thread who have shed some light on my ancestry.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 08:50 AM

the gaelic irish and scots are essentially the same peoples and with
the gaelic manx form the goidelic(c) celts. the welsh, cornish and
bretagnes form the brythonic (P)celts. related, their labels is
a reference to the variation in their languages. for example welsh
for head is penn and irish is ceann. it seems that the goidelic
celts were both in ireland and maybe england earlier than the
brythonic celts but eventually there were pockets of each related
celt living side by side. the black irish does refer to the black haired and sometimes sallowed skin gael, but you can find this in
wales and cornwall as well. generally and from historic discriptions
of the celts of britain and ireland they were generally discribed
as a fair haired and skinned people with a generous amount of red or gingery hair types. red hair being a regressive gene will eventualy
die out. the celts were involved in a lot of raiding to capture
slaves and indeed traded some of these captured people with the
romans. they would also buy slaves. these slaves would have had chidren and as the irish for example would go to mainland europe
to raid and trade the genes of darker complexioned people would have
become part of the melting pot geno. however, their is some evidence
of north african influence in the west of ireland because christian gnostic monks looking for isolation found there way to irelands west coast and helped amongst others, including st patrick(a captured slave) to bring knowledge of christianity to ireland. the celts as discribed did not call themselves celts, it is a discriptive word that was burrowed fron the creeks by the romans which means 'hidden people' and was to discribe not only the celtic peoples as we now know them but indeed other tribes, including germanic peoples, by the roman observers. there is an identifiable irish/gaelic gene and in my opinon the irish/norse mix would probably be most evident in north west ireland and the western islands of scotland. iceland has a very large ethnic mix of, i think, 40 per cent males with celtic dna and 60 per cent females with celtic genes. this racial mix results in the fiery look of the west highlander and the gingery ruddy complexioned irishman. this blood mix made for good fighting men, and the galloglass from the western islands of scotland made up the backbone of the o'neil and o'donnol armies who fought the english and later fled as the the wild geese. galloglass means young foriegn soldier/servant.as a matter of interest the viking called the irish westermen and when the viking first discovered iceland who did they record as living their before they arrived, the westerman and where they lived in christain communities is now known as the westermann islands. the irish would call the vikings lochlainn which means lake and land and some irish/scottish names may have been influenced by viking intermarriage to end up with names like McLoughlan, meaning son of lake and land. this is just an assumption and like everything else just my opinion


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Learaí na Láibe
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 07:49 PM

Jeysas! All this 'Black Irish' stuff again. Born and reared in Ireland, I may have heard of the Black Irish here but I certainly don't remember having done so before surfing the net. As Ard Macha pointed the story of survivors of the Spanish Armada having an influence on the Irish bloodline is just a myth. But people don't like having their myths debunked. As for trading links with Spain - all northwest European countries had Spanish sailors calling at their ports. How come we had no Spanish surnames. The only Spanish derived name I know is De Valera and that came via the USA. We have Gaelic, Viking, Norman, Welsh, Scottish, French, Flemish, Jewish surnames. Did all those lusty Spaniards just have one night stands and pull up anchor leaving the poor hapless colleens in the family way without even knowing the surnames of Juan and Pablo?

Anyway logic will have no effect on this Irish American myth. I've seen it appearing repeatedly on Irish related sites, It's not going to go away.

Let me share a secret. 'Twasn't the Spanish were responsible. It was aliens from the planet Gzob. There are signs of their prehistoric visits all over the landscape if you know where to look.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,An Cat Breac
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 01:39 PM

I agree, i only heard this term from some Americians while in the US traveling and had to look it up. It's simply implausible to attribute supposed Mediterranean features to a few stragglers shipwrecked in scattered areas 400 years ago, there is certainly no history or remembering of Spanish blood in there areas. If one was to say that dark hair and/or dark eyes are the result of Spanish blood then they must have been throughout the island ag streachailt leathair.

I'm think i'm only repeating what Ard Mhacha & Learaí na Láibe were saying but this seems to be just descendent of emigrants now living in America romanticing their past and retaining fragments of it, which now form incorrect perceptions. Colours when used in Ireland tended to be emotional description (An Fear Rua/red man = Angry man, An Fear Dubh/dark man = the Devil), not expressing physical attributes. There is no usuage of the term Black Irish in relation to Armada survivors in Ireland, and no record of it here, including in the irish-speaking areas, the places that have retained most of our folklore. If Irish-americans want to use it fine, but its history they've invented.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 01:59 PM

... I'm glad none of the Irish have mentioned the word "blue" - things are confused enough as it is!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 03:11 PM

Sorry, Martin, was just about to!

When speaking of black people as in the black race found in Africa, the Irish language uses the word "gorm" (used for blue, but in actuality one of the various terms for "things that are their natural colour", like glas and liath). So it's "cine ghoirm" ("blue" - black - race), "fear gorm" ("blue" - black - man), bean ghoirm ("blue" - black - woman) and so on.

My grammar isn't so hot in Irish, so while the feminine is softened by adding an "h", I'm not sure about the slenderising by adding an "i" before the end of the word, by the way.

When speaking of black hair, we use "dubh" (black); also in English we'll say "D'you see that little black fellow over there?", meaning little black-haired fellow - though this is a usage that's dropping away now that there are so many people from Africa now living here and it might sound rude.

"Black Irish" is an American term for dark-haired Irish people commonly supposed to be quick-tempered and bear grudges, as I understand. I suppose this may have come from the fact that many of the Irish people who emigrated to America over the generations may have arrived under intense stress, and remained stressed and edgy for many years after their arrival due to the pressures of poverty and lack of work.

"Black Protestant" is a term used in Ireland to suggest a Protestant, almost invariably Northern, who's bigoted.

The "Black North" comes from the fact that the northern direction was seen as that from which ill-luck and monsters came; distressingly, the children's graves in graveyards are traditionally placed to the north.

Kipling was a racist. Find an approving mention of an Irish person anywhere in his work and I'll give you a tanner.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 03:37 PM

Well, maybe it's the stereotype if "the fighting Irish" presented here, but it's an approving enough stereotype - The Irish Guards

...The fashion's all for khaki now,
    But once through France we went
Full-dressed in scarlet Army cloth,
    The English—left at Ghent.
They're fighting on our side to-day
    But, before they changed their clothes,
The half of Europe knew our fame,
    As all of Ireland knows!
       Old Days! The wild geese are flying,
            Head to the storm as they faced it before!
       For where there are Irish there's memory undying,
            And when we forget, it is Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!...


That's a tanner you owe me, I'd say.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 05:21 PM

I'm confused about the following statement, An Cat Breac:

Colours when used in Ireland tended to be emotional description (An Fear Rua/red man = Angry man, An Fear Dubh/dark man = the Devil), not expressing physical attributes.

I'm no expert but I do know the word for red is 'dearg'. 'Rua' actually means red-haired. Of course, I see the symbolism, which is apt, and I noticed you qualified your statement with "tended," but wasn't Owen Roe O'Sullivan named for his red hair, not his anger? My impression is that the tendency was to describe hair color and to only sometimes imply an emotional description.

But maybe I'm wrong. I'd love some more clarification.

David


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Grab
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 05:44 PM

So JTT, does that mean if they're "gormless", they've not got the blues?

I'll get my coat...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 03:45 PM

Heh, "gorm" is pronounced gurrum. Surely if they're gormless they *haven't* got the blues!

Rua is used for red in natural things: hair is red, a fox is red, autumn leaves are red. I suppose, too, it suggests a *russet* red.

Dearg is used for red-dyed things, and also for the red of roses, and the red of cheeks. Pink is bándearg - white-red.

Same with glas and uaine - glas is for natural greens, uaine for dyed greens.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:28 PM

That would imply that if you were naturally hot-tempered it should be rua, and if you'd just become that way because of the things that happened to you in life, it should be dearg.

And the same for hair, according to whether it's natural, or out of a bottle...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 09:56 AM

In the great John Ford cavalry movie, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," why does Victor McLaglen angrily refer to another sergeant as being from "the black Tyrone"? What's the deal with the Co. Tyrone?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:57 AM

Red-haired people are not considered irascible in Ireland.

Black Tyrone is in the Black North.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 11:12 AM

McGrath naturally Kipling had a soft spot for those Irish gullible enough to be used by the Empire as cannon fodder.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,None of the above guests
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:01 PM

Thank you for finally clarifying it all so succinctly, JTT. I was really beginning to wonder if there were any folks here who could explain that the term is of Irish American origin and bust some of the myth of it being of Irish origin instead, based upon what me mum and me granny told me. And that the term for black race (as in African black race) in Gaelic doesn't use the word 'dubh'.

As Irish folks have pointed out, any attempts by Irish Americans to match physical characteristics to geographic regions of Ireland, with Spanish sailors or Iberian origins of the Celts, would be met with some skepticism back in the old country. Though it might make for some entertaining craic down at the pub.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,None of the above again
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:33 PM

Also, someone mentioned the term 'lace curtain Irish', which was coined by working class American Irish to describe the hypocritical nature of the Anglo affectations adopted by and prevalent amongst their social climbing American Irish middle class brethren.

Not a polite term, to be sure.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:37 PM

Although it just occurred to me that there is an Irish equivalent term for 'lace curtain Irish' which would be the term 'West Brit'. And maybe the derogatory use of the term 'Dublin 4' to describe a 'West Brit'.

Anyway, they are largly equivalent to the American Irish term 'lace curtain Irish'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,None of the above
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:53 PM

Oops that was me above.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: number 6
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 01:15 PM

Back in the mid 1800's there was an Irish secret society called the 'Whiteboys' who opposed and wreaked revenge on protestant landowners, specifically those who fenced off what was designated as common land (land granted for use to Catholics). Those Catholic Irish that collaborated with the Protestant Landowners , or refushed membership in the Whiteboys were labeled 'Blackfeet'. This could possibly have some meaning to the term Black Irish'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 01:56 PM

Really? I would have thought of "lace-curtain Irish" as being crushingly respectable *working-class* Irish people. Lace curtains wouldn't really be a Protestant thing at all at all!

The American term I love is "Two T Irish", for Irish people who have made it and built the big house with *two toilets*!

In terms of different complexions in different parts of the country, this is to some extent true; I astonished a lad a few months ago by asking was he from Donegal. "No," he said, "but my parents were. How did you know?"

How I knew was his characteristic Donegal colouring: dramatically pale skin, black, black curly hair, long black eyelashes and fine soot-black eyebrows, and very pale grey eyes.

Then in Connemara you have a mixture of the typical American picture of an Irish person - red hair, white skin, green or blue eyes - and what Irish people take as typical - very dark brown hair, pale skin, rosy cheeks, blue or grey eyes - and the dark-skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed, Spanish-looking people. Lots of these in West Cork too. In Waterford, and parts of Dublin where the Vikings particularly settled - Ringsend, for instance, you'll find long-eyed, high-cheekboned people with "nut-brown" hair, the colour of a walnut shell.

But yes, generally it's pretty much of a mixture.

And getting more so now, I'm glad to say, with the influx of beautiful dark-black and rich-brown and coffee-coloured people from Africa, tan people from the Arab countries and golden people from China.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 02:13 PM

jtt, the lace curtain, as I understand it, is neither a reference to religion or a slur on the English. Rather, it is aterm relating to those working class Irish who abandoned their Irishness and their working class roots, to become assimilated into the dominant Anglo middle class.

The class assimilation thing was much more central to one's ethnic identity in the US than it ever was (or likely will ever be) in Ireland. The push to gain entry to the middle class in the US required an abandoning of one's own linguistic and cultural roots, in order to assimilate into the Anglo dominant middle class. That has been just as true for every non-Anglo ethnic minority that emigrated to the US as it is true for the Irish, and all have their own culture's term for the linguistic and cultural assimilation phenomenon.

For instance, two racial groups have terms that refer to being "white" (ie Anglo) on the "inside" (ie in physical appearance only): among black Americans, the term is "Oreo" (for the cookies with white filling between two chocolate biscuits). Among Native Americans, the term is being an "apple Indian" or red on the outside, white on the inside. The Latino term equates race and ethnicity by using the term "Anglo" perjoratively to refer to all whites, regardless of their ethnicity.

As you can see, it's a bit more complicated here than it is in County Mayo. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,None of the above again
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 02:17 PM

Sorry, me again above. Also thought I'd mention the time I was visiting some friends in Donegal, and we were chatting about one red haired child in particular who had been chosen by an Irish American magazine to appear on their cover as the model. It seems they had come looking for the "quintesentially Donegal Irish child" and chosen an cailin rua as their Donegal lass. They all loved the irony of it.

That was the crack, anyway.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 03:26 PM

Many imagine that all those who emigrated from Ireland were Irish-speaking tenant farmers, but of course this isn't so. Many were shopkeepers from towns, or tradespeople, or mid-sized farmers broken by the high taxes the Famine brought, or teachers or lawyers or doctors, or clergymen and -women, or theatricals, or artists, or journalists.

Plenty of the people who went to America already had class pretensions or class allegiances; research on emigration has also found that it was not the closed door that was the traditional image for years - many, many people went to Canada, the US, South America, Australia, England or Europe, did well and returned to Ireland with a bundle of relatively easily-won cash.

The "lace curtain Irish" are much more likely to have been the people of the smallish towns of Ireland, the kind of people who used to have the picture of the Sacred Heart and statues of the Virgin and the Child of Prague (or if Protestant, the statuette of King William riding his white horse, kept in the fanlight over the door).

It may be that *some* were those who were ambitious to climb the social scale by shedding their language and taking on that of the new country; but I suspect that most were those who brought their lace curtains with them, folded and lovingly scented with Sunlight Soap and special intentions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 03:53 PM

While the pietic roots of the lace curtain Irish are well attested to in Irish American literature (try Eugene O'Neil's 'Long Day's Journey into Night' as one good example) the term is a counter-part to the slur "shanty Irish" who were the poor Famine era immigrants, many of whom did speak Irish.

The shedding of the language among the Famine Irish was universal and immediate, unlike all the other immigrant groups who came to the US before and since. Their refusal to use their language after emigrating to the US is one of the bizarre anomalies of US immigration history. The hurt was so deep and profound among this group labelled "shanty Irish" that they couldn't bring themselves to use the language here.

No offense JTT, but most Irish know little to nothing about the realities of the Irish immigrants in the US in my experience, just like most contemporary Irish Americans who are now, like me, five generations out of Ireland (yes, my ancestors were Famine immigrants as the majority of Americans who claim Irish roots are) know about Ireland. As it turns out, I've spent a lot of time in Ireland unlearning the mythologies I was taught about the Ireland and the Irish as a child growing up. Spending time in Ireland made me realize the Irish in Ireland have many myths about their American cousins they need to unlearn as well.

One of the most prevalent beliefs I encountered in Ireland was the belief that during the emigration wave from the Famine through the 1920s, when the bleeding of the Irish from Ireland to American stopped and became more of a trickle than a gush, was that the Irish believe most people emigrated with their families. Why, with all the Irish first hand experience of American wakes, stories and songs of the individual child, usually a son, taking leave on their own for America, that belief is so prevalent I don't know.

But both the emigrant as family, and emigrant as male stereotypes among the Irish, are essentially wrong. The majority of emigrants from Ireland in the 1845-1920 emigration era were poor, single, and to the shock of most Irish people, the majority were women, not men.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 03:55 PM

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the majority of them were also mono-lingual and bi-lingual Irish speakers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:39 PM

No offence taken, nameless Guest. My knowledge of emigration comes mainly from family and neighbourhood memories.

Yes, in that particular period a large proportion of emigrants to the US was Irish-speaking and female; many went to the US with the help of men who were supposed to be getting them jobs working in families as maids - much like the eastern European and Filipina emigration of today - and many, as today, found themselves raped and put out to work as prostitutes for those men. Not speaking the language of the country was a disadvantage to be quickly shed. And after such an experience, most didn't want to keep contact with home - they were shamed.

However, there's also another large strand of emigration from Ireland to North America that is concealed by the fact that these emigrants went to *Canada*. Some stayed, some moved down the east coast into the big US industrial cities. Many of these were better-off, and English-speakers when they arrived.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 05:01 PM

Actually, the money for emigration sent home to Ireland came mostly from women, JTT. The phenomenon of bringing relatives over is known here as chain migration. All cultures do it. But the Irish sent the women first, and tried to keep the men at home, so they would keep the land and/or business in the family. Also, the male sons were privleged in Irish society, the female daughters were seen as excess mouths to feed.

No other immigrant group in the US shed their language like the Famine Irish. Most retained vestiges of their language in the home until the third American generation arrived on the scene. The Famine Irish weren't even speaking Irish in the second generation, so strong was the association of "shanty Irish" with speaking Irish among the Famine immigrants.

The emigration record of which you speak is largely pre-1845 in the US and Canada. The emigration pattern from Britain to Canada was more common for the Highlanders and Gaelic speaking Scots, along with the English speaking Irish, many of whom were Protestant as well. There just isn't as large a population of Catholic Irish as Protestant Irish in Canada, because of it's continuing ties to Britain. The majority of the Catholic Irish population that emigrated to North America came to US during and after the Famine, up until 1920 or so. The majority of the Protestant Irish emigration to North America occurred in waves, the first being to the southern US in the pre-1845 era, and then to Canada after 1845, so as not to be associated with the Famine Irish.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:05 AM

[QUOTE]No other immigrant group in the US shed their language like the Famine Irish. Most retained vestiges of their language in the home until the third American generation arrived on the scene. The Famine Irish weren't even speaking Irish in the second generation[/QUOTE]

I know this is correct. The same shedding of the language was going on in parallel in Ireland. In 1840, according to linguistic historians, if you drew a line down the centre of Ireland, everyone to the west would have been monolingual in Irish, everyone to the east bilingual in Irish and English.

After the Famine Irish died out within a couple of generations in most of the country - probably mainly due to the fact that families were broken up by the deaths of parents, as well as by the determination of the British government to wipe it out.

[QUOTE], so strong was the association of "shanty Irish" with speaking Irish among the Famine immigrants.[/QUOTE]

Now, this is where the scholarly observation is tainted by assumptions that are not necessarily accurate. To not that Irish died out is correct, but to assume that this was the reason is not good practice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:57 AM

Hmm, that quoting didn't work. Odd.

To continue on the same line: it's increasingly prevalent among sociologists, and psychologists, that a correct scientific observation will be coloured by the person's own assumptions.

For instance, yes, most of the Irish emigrants going to America in the late 19th and early 20th century were women. Yes, that's an observable fact.

But then to continue this thought and make the assumption that it was because women were less valued - this isn't scientific; it's not something you can test with observable data.

One of the reasons that girls went to America was that the work was there. Boys didn't stay home; some went to America (I know various elderly couples who met while working in America, she in service, he in construction, and brought their savings home to found a family), and many more went to England, where there was plenty of work for "navvies" building the canals and railways and factories of the Industrial Age.

I must really caution against extrapolating emotional explanations from observed data. It gets you into big trouble.

(This isn't particularly you, "Guest"; it's something I've watched with interest for years. I think it has leaked from journalism, where you read "Police were forced to fire on rioters" when nobody forced anyone to do anything - opinions fatally cloud the clear view and tarnish the pure observation.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 08:12 AM

Actually JTT, there are a number of excellent US historians who have done a fine job of documenting female emigration from Ireland to America: one is Hasia Diner, the other is Janet Nolan. Their observations are even in concurrence with the male historians!

You seem to have a problem with the interpretation of the historic facts, JTT, because it makes the Irish look sexist. They were. Very. Their treatment of their female citizens at the time was appalling--they were largely viewed as chattel.

My "unscientific observations" aren't any such thing. They are now, in the canon of US immigration history, well established facts.

The reason why both girls and boys emigrated to America was largely the same: the punitive and regressive dowry system that developed in post-Famine Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: dianavan
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 03:32 PM

Danes have the same problem trying to figure out the roots of the term 'black Danes'. My grandfather was a black Dane with dark brown hair, a dark complexion and blue eyes. Where did it come from?

Apparently the genetic mixing occurred way back in the days when there were tribes battling in Northern Europe. The Arles were the dark ones and conquered the plains all the way to the coast. Could it be when the Black Danes found Ireland, they produced Black Irish offspring?

Who knows? My guess is that the terms come from appearance only. Genetic mixing has been occurring for centuries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: HuwG
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 05:19 AM

Chasing Number 6's suggestion that "Black Irish" derived from "Blackfeet" who collaborated with English authority or Protestant landlords, I came across the tale of several gruesome murders in Ontario, where this Irish infighting continued on the other side of the Atlantic.

Click here


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:52 AM

If the author of the tale Joseph Geringer described as a "history enthusiant"[blue clicked by HugW] is as accurate with his facts of the Donnelly murders as he is with his dating of 1100, of William of Orange`s arrival in Ireland, then the rest of his tale can be read with a certain amount of secipitism .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 01:30 PM

My father always said it meant those irish with dark hair and eyes but were fair skinned. He also said that the Spanish Armada thing was pur myth as not enough sailors survived to have an impact on the genetic make up of the local people.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:36 PM

Well,

I've lived in Ireland most of my life. I can honestly say that most people here would not be at all familiar with the term Black Irish. Having said that, it seems to have entered into popular debate quite recently in certain circles. The truth is that there is no Irish "race" and there are no single strand theories as to the genetic/heriditary makeup of Irish people. The American perception of lots of red haired people seems so strange to me as when I was growing up there were so few red heads that they did get taunted and singled out quite a lot, called things like duracell, rusty etc - horrible that this was. Certainly it's a characteristic that does exist here and it's most likely due to various lines of nordic settlement throughout the ages, from the early viking invasions to anglo-norman plantations and everything in between. I'm dark haired and tan quite easily, both my parents are black haired and my dad is quite dark complexioned. It never entered my mind that these physical characteristcs may be seen as somewhat "un-irish" until a few years ago when things like this started to enter the public imagination. I guess the whole mini cultural revolution we've had here recently, with it's origins in the 60's folk revival has created a lot of these things, in parallel with the need for identity etc......so much of what we see now as "traditional" or "authentic" especially concerning music, doesn't really stretch back very far......but thats a whole other debate......anyways I guess I'm trying to say that this country is not unique in european terms as regards genetic heritage, there are many crayons in the box


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: HuwG
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 05:53 PM

ard mhacha, you are quite right that many of the details in the story I posted are incorrect. This is a common failing of writers the "Shock ! Horror ! Probe !" genre. Details ? Pah ! Why let mere facts stand in the way of a good juicy story. Still, the murders are documented elsewhere, in much more restrained style.

(I originally stumbled across the site looking for some more lyrics to the Jesse James tunes in the Digitrad.)


A much better piece of literature which refers to "Black Irish" is the book, "The Irish R.M" by Somerville and Ross, later made into a TV series starring Peter Bowles. The character through which the book is written in the first person, Major Sinclair Yeates, describes the extended Knox family he meets in West Ireland as "Black Protestants".

(As he continues, "They occupied every social class and situation from Sir Valentine Knox of Castle Knox, to the auctioneer Knox, better known as 'Larry the Liar'."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Cruiser
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 10:56 AM

Thanks for the erudite discussions, especially by some of the learned Guests.

I have learned more about the term "Black Irish" and its possible and probable etymologies.

Mudcat Cafe is more than a fantastic music site.

Keep the discussions flowing...

Cruiser


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 05 - 02:59 PM

ONCE and FOR ALL!

BLACK IRISH denoted people of usually BLACK HAIR and BLUE EYES that was very evident of addmisture of Spaniards and Irish. HOwever if you go to Spain and go to Galicia the people look very IRISH cause of the CELTIC mix. But spaniards themselves have a mix of Iberian and CELT.

So again the SPANISH ARMADA landed primarily in GALWAY BAY..so there you go. THey mixed, take a spanish name like MARTIN..many irish people carry that name as well.

If you see someone that is BLACK IRISH..they look SPANISH. The old singer /dancer ANN MILER said that she was of black irish origin.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 May 05 - 05:19 PM

Wow, until now I never heard it used for anything except the black-haired blue-eyed Irish, like the guy who's about to play Elvis. That was the first thing I thought when I looked at him in the article in Parade.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Swave N. Deboner
Date: 02 May 05 - 08:03 AM

This thread caught my eye earlier this morning. Irish is predominant in my family "mix", and I was always told that we were "Black" or "Dark" Irish. My granny came from County Cork. She would say the Dark Irish were Gypsies, commonly called "Tinks (Tinkers)", and "Travelers." I've no idea, really, but the Spanish Armada connection makes sense to me. Anyway, I wanted to share something I came across just a few minutes ago while surfing the web researching Black Irish.

check out this folk group

I'd never heard Stone Cross till just now. Note the reference to the Spanish theory in the introduction of their new CD, "Dark Irish"

Nice sound. Pardon the slight thread creep, but I thought they deserve a plug.

SND


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 02 May 05 - 04:11 PM

This thread is excellent evidence of the reluctance of people to give up their myths in the face of sound evidence to the contrary.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Big Mick
Date: 03 May 05 - 01:02 AM

Amen BPL. I wonder if they bothered to read the links. Some folks just like to hear themselves type.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 03 May 05 - 01:55 AM

I thought the Armada myth had been debunked. They were surely too few survivors to make much difference to the bloodstock. However, the earliest settlers of Ireland and the Western Isles are believed to have come up from Spain and there were plety of trade links over the centuries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 May 05 - 03:19 AM

Now, Paul McGrath was real black Irish, and one of our best ever footballers, had damm all links with the Spanish Armada


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Galician
Date: 06 May 05 - 10:05 AM

From Carlos Aradas, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain

Right, I have heard enough crap about the Armada and the "Black Irish" being descendants from "Spaniards." It seems to me that certain people should get informed on what they write about before spreading generalised misconceptions even more.

Even without knowing much about history or genetics, several genral-knowledge, commonsensical realities make very improbable the myth of Armada survivors having had any impact on the current Irish population:

1) Spanish people are mostly dark-haired, OK, so far so good. But, jet-black hair (the colour attributed to the black Irish) is only found in a small percentage of the population (10-15%), the rest being various shades of brown. Moreover, 17% of Spaniards have fair/blond hair. Blondism being recessive, the percentage of Spanish people carrying "blond genes" would approach half of the population according to basic Mendelian rules (the chances of their off-spring being fair-haired are not negligible especially if mixing with Northern Europeans). Basically, that means that for the Black Irish to be descendants of Spanish sailors:

- All of their forefathers would have to fall into the 10-15% Spaniards with jet-black hair. Highly improbable bearing in mind that many of them were noblemen who claimed "purity of blood." (Nothing wrong with having Jewish or Arab blood, but they were probably right...)

- They would have survived in great numbers and decided to stay in Ireland leaving their Estates, family and friends behind for good, even knowing that Spanish possessions in Europe (Flanders) were at easy reach.

- They would have been welcomed by the Irish population, who would have offered them their daughters gladly.

- They would have escaped English persecution.

- They would have married jet-black haired women exclusively and their descendants (for over 400 years) never mixed with any blond/red-haired natives.

I mean, folks, get real!

The thing is that THERE IS A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE IRISH AND THE SPANIARDS, BUT IT GOES BACK TO THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE THE ARMADA EPISODE:

The Herald, September 10 2004
CELTIC nations such as Scotland and Ireland have more in common with the Portuguese and Spanish than with the Celts of central Europe, according to a new academic report.
Historians have long believed that the British Isles were swamped by a massive invasion of Iron Age Celts from central Europe around 500BC.
However, geneticists at Trinity College in Dublin now claim that the Scots and Irish have more in common with the people of north-western Spain.
Dr Daniel Bradley, genetics lecturer at Trinity College, said a new study into Celtic origins revealed close affinities with the people of Galicia.
He said: "It's well-known that there are cultural relations between the areas but now this shows there is much more. We think the links are much older than that of the Iron Age because it also shows affinities with the Basque region, which isn't a Celtic region."
He added: "The links point towards other Celtic nations, in particular Scotland, but they also point to Spain."
Historians believed the Celts, originally Indo-European, invaded the Atlantic islands in a massive migration 2500 years ago.
But using DNA samples from people living in Celtic nations and other parts of Europe, geneticists at the university have drawn new parallels.
Dr Bradley said it was possible migrants moved from the Iberian peninsula to Ireland as far back as 6000 years ago up until 3000 years ago.
"I don't agree with the idea of a massive Iron Age invasion that took over the Atlantic islands. You can regard the ocean, rather than a barrier, as a communication route," Dr Bradley said.
Archaeologists have also been questioning the links between the Celts of eastern France and southern Germany and the people of the British Isles and the new research appears to prove their theories.
The Dublin study found that people in areas traditionally known as Celtic, such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall, had strong links with each other and had more in common with people from the Iberian peninsula.
It also found people in Ireland have more in common with Scots than any other nation.
"What we would propose is that this commonality among the Atlantic facade is much older, 6000 years ago or earlier," Dr Bradley added.
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 lands, the research showed.
However, the researchers could not determine whether fair skin, freckles, red hair and fiery tempers truly are Celtic traits.
Stephen Oppenheimer, professor of clinical socio-medical sciences at Oxford, said that the Celts of western Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall were descended from an ancient people living on the Atlantic coast when Britain was still attached to mainland Europe, while the English were more closely related to the Germanic peoples of the interior.
He said: "The English are the odd ones out because they are the ones more linked to continental Europe. The Scots, the Irish, the Welsh and the Cornish are all very similar in their genetic pattern to the Basque."

The study headed by Dr Bradley was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
http://www.geocities.com/vetinarilord/celt.pdf
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v75n5/41573/brief/41573.abstract.html
http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/Underhill_2004_p487-494.pdf
Nesta outra ligação um patriota irlandês recolhe informes científicos sobre o irmão Povo Irlandês:
http://www.geocities.com/diarmidlogan/genetics.html

MORE FACTS ABOUT THE ARMADA:

In fact, it seems likely that few, if any, survivors of the Armada took up residence in Ireland. For one thing, there weren't many survivors. Perhaps as many as 17 Spanish ships ran aground or sank off the Irish coast in the fall of 1588, as the crippled Armada made its roundabout way home after its defeat in the English Channel. The records of the period are incomplete, but it's possible that as many as 6,000 Spanish soldiers and sailors were dumped into the sea. Of these, 2,000 or more simply drowned. One contemporary account claimed that 1,100 bodies washed up on a five-mile stretch of beach.

Between 3,000 and 3,500 of the remainder were killed or captured by the English or their Irish minions. The English had fewer than 2,000 troops to maintain their hold on Ireland, so they resorted to the expedient of not taking any prisoners. In one instance, several hundred Spaniards were induced to surrender with the promise of honorable treatment, only to be methodically butchered the next morning.

The richest or most prominent of the survivors were held for ransom, or for public spectacle (the English always were a class act). Only a few hundred of the castaways managed to make it to Scotland and to the Continent with the help of sympathetic Irishmen, themselves no great lovers of the English, who at the time were attempting to consolidate their grip on their miserable neighbor.

Frankly, there was little to induce the shipwrecked soldiers and sailors to stay. The Spanish considered the Irish to be savages-- evidently they'd been to a few Notre Dame games--and they thought the island was a cold and forbidding place. One Captain Francisco de Cuellar, who managed to make it to Spanish-held Antwerp, relates in a letter how an Irish chieftain, impressed by de Cuellar's bravery, offered him his daughter's hand in marriage. The Spaniard's response was to sneak away in the middle of the night.

A few Spaniards stuck around for a while, of course; several were on hand to help a combined force of Scotch and Irish defeat an English army at Ballyshannon in northwest Ireland in 1597. But it's fair to say the Armada's castoffs didn't make much of a dent on the ethnic makeup of the country.

I HOPE THIS CLARIFIES IT.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 May 05 - 10:50 AM

Carlos, most informative. Thanks for taking the time to post. So the truth is that the "Black Irish" are Irish with black hair. Who'd 'a' thunk it ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Wyllow
Date: 06 May 05 - 02:29 PM

Carlos is right. The "Black Irish" are nothing more than the original Celtic settlers. Red or blonde hair with green eyes was a later import, possibly from the Viking invaders. I've only been to Ireland once, but I could clearly pick out these two types on the streets of Dublin.

Here's a bit of the old Celtic story of Deirdre...(which I'm sure predates the Spanish Armada!)...

One day, Deirdre and her nurse were walking in the woods. It was wintertime, and they came upon Deirdre's foster father, who was butchering a calf. The red blood ran in the white snow, and a raven came to peck at it.
Deirdre said to her nurse,"I could love a man with those three colors: hair black as the raven's wing, skin white as the snow, cheeks as red as blood". Her nurse replied, "I know of such a man, and he lives nearby...."

There you have it, the description of the typical early Celt...black hair, and white skin with a high color.

Hope this helps,
Wyllow


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 06 May 05 - 03:50 PM

Well done Carlos, surely your detailed explanation will convince our US friends that the "black Irish" myth is a load of baloney.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Diarmuid, U.S.A.
Date: 03 Oct 05 - 11:50 AM

Carlos,
      Thank you for introducing some sanity and logic to an otherwise divisive and contentious topic. I am curious as to why this whole business seems to an American phenomenon. My question to anyone interested in this subject is the term "Black Irish" (in an American context) to be taken as a compliment, an insult or merely a neutral observation?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Hopfolk
Date: 03 Oct 05 - 01:19 PM

Ooh, I've got a great angle on it...

Read the "Conan" series by Robert Howard (THE American fiction god)... No really, there are some 30 books in the series and they all rock.

R.E.Howard was big into the racial stereotyping thing (and not in a bad way) and his Black-haired Blue-eyed creation Conan was an Atlantean!!!

That's right folks, the Black-Irish are the last of the Atlanteans.

Or a sub-genus evolved from prehistoric pre-celtic hunter-gatherer stock (Straight from Sumeria - all Jet black hair and proto-language) that got trapped when the Euro-Irish land-bridge drowned (ATLANTIS!). I mean - blue eyedness is just an adaptation to cope with all the rain, it wouldn't take more than 500 years.

Am I right?

Peace CamoJohn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 03 Oct 05 - 04:01 PM

This was as far north as most had been in their lives. The natives as strange and barbarous as any of those encountered by the fictional Amadis de Gaul. Also bear in mind that the Armada survivors might have been murdered for no more than their shoes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 03 Oct 05 - 08:54 PM

Conan from Atlantis? Conan is a Cimerrian; Cimerria equals Cymry; thus, Conan is Welsh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Oct 05 - 09:55 PM

No evidence of that. There were two lots of "Cimmerians"; one in what is now the Crimea, the other in what is now Italy. Any connection with what is now Wales appears to be imaginary.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 03:53 AM

Howard definitely ment the Cimmerians around the Black Sea area, related to the Scythians, Sarmatians, all the Iranian, rather than Turkic, nomads.
Frankly, there's as much etymological relation between Cimmeria and Cymry as Russia and Prussia.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Hopfolk
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 07:13 AM

Yeah, Howard used fragments of tales from all around the ancient middle-east and mediterranean to compose the Kull and Conan stories.

CamoJohn.

I have heard the Cymric reference, though I believe it's supposed to be more geographical than anthropomorphic.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 07:30 AM

Howard was a better historian than is evident through his stories, which frankly are a bizzare, though entertaining, mish-mash.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 05 Oct 05 - 01:07 PM

I have a feeling that I have read comments by GUEST (01 May 05 - 02:59 PM) on other sites with his opinions about this subject. He has a distinctive penchant for CAPITALIZATION and unproven assertions. To quote something I read recently "They don't get it because they don't want to get it". Perhaps Carlos Aradas (6 May 05) can straighten this hombre out since they are both Spanish. See www.bbs.irishroots.net and I'm sure you will able to spot him.
    For anyone who would like to find out the facts about this, you could find the book "Ireland, Graveyard of the Spanish Armada" by T.P. Kilfeather. For the academically minded, you could check out
"The Physical Anthropology of Ireland" by Earnest A. Hooton, an anthropology study, in which he actually goes "in search of" the legendary Black Irish to no avail. As someone else in this thread commented this discussion is not going to go away soon. Slan agus Beannacht!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 05 Oct 05 - 03:27 PM

That guest is full of it.

Martin is not a uniquely Spanish name at all. He was a very popular saint throughout all of Christendom (well, the western part of it) and I dare say many Irish bore the name well before the Armada.

The Armada did NOT primarily land in Galway Bay.

From Hardiman's History of Galway

"The year 1588 was rendered memorable for the destruction of the celebrated Spanish Armada. One of the ships which composed this ill-fated fleet was wrecked in the bay of Galway, and upwards of seventy of the crew perished. Several other vessels were lost along the coast; and such of the Spaniards as escaped the waves, were cruelly butchered by order of the lord deputy, Sir William Fitz-Williams, who, finding, or pretending to find, fault with the alleged lenity of Sir Richard Bingham, the president ot the province, commissioned Robert Fowle, deputy marshal, who dislodged these unfortunate men from their hiding-places, and in a summary manner executed about two hundred of them, which so terrified the remainder, that, though sick and half-famished, they chose sooner to trust to their shattered barks, and the mercy of the waves, than to their more merciless enemies, in consequence of which multitudes of them perished."

A typical galleon carried roughly 200-400 men (and mostly on the conservative side of the estimate), the one directly in the Bay lost 70 men there alone. We do not know how many more had already died from sickness or injuries. Presumably the survivors were massacred and the wealthy ransomed. Those along the coast fared even worse. How one could conclude the Armada had a significant effect on the ethnic makeup of Ireland, is beyond me.

Anne Miler could say she was Black Irish, but how that proves an Armada link, I fail to see.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 06 Oct 05 - 12:49 PM

Does anyone have a theory as to why "The Armada Myth" is so popular among Americans? Is it simply a way to keep an erroneous stereotype alive? I would like to know what people in Ireland make of all this. Any takers?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 06 Oct 05 - 04:29 PM

Because it's sexy. People don't like ordinary family trees.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,JD
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 06:49 PM

My mom's mom, Charlcye Elrod, said she was Black Irish and bore a striking resemblance to a light Josephine Baker. She had black rizzy hair, high cheek bones, and a full lower lip. Sounds like a light Black Indian to me. It didn't dawn on me for years.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 07:59 PM

I heard a very interesting paper at an American Council of Irish Studies conference by a scholar who had traced the very early experience of Gaeltachta persons who were transported or kidnapped to work in the sugar plantations of Barbados. This occasionally included entire villages. Apparently this was sufficiently common that, in the west of Ireland, the term for such kidnapping was "to be 'Barbadozed.'" The Caribbean term "Redlegs" (meaning poor whites, similar to the "Rednecks" of the US South) comes from the presence of the descendents of the same people.

This scholar theorized that the origin of "Black Irish" (which I've commonly heard as a reference to persons in the west of Ireland with swarthy skin, dark curly hair, and/or dark eyes) might be in the offspring of mixed-race liaisons in Barbados who later returned to Ireland. She made a pretty convincing argument.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 08:04 PM

According to History Detectives on PBS, "rednecks" originally referred to the Scots who fled to Northern Ireland when their land was taken from them. They apparently wore red scarves in a show of solidarity. They were also called "hillbillys" because of their loyalty to King William, according to the same experts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 08:07 PM

Forgot to say, the theory of Barbadosed is interesting. My mom had a lot of Scottish ancestry. Her brother's hair was so dark and tightly curled his nickname, in the 1930's in high school was "Nig." Nothing was ever said about it, except my dad teased mom about being Black Irish. Since then, I've found one of her ancestors was a big wig on Barbados. When he moved to the Carolinas he brought about 300 hundred slaves with him. I believe it is entirely feasible there was some mixing of the blood.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:43 AM

It should be relatively easy to see if there is African ancestry by way of DNA testing. You are just trolling, a chara. I am wondering why you would suggest it in the first place. Not the idea so much as the intent behind the suggestion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 01:48 PM

When a GUEST revives a thread that has been dormant for over a year muttering accusations of trolling, isn't that a bit reminiscent of the conversation between the pot and the kettle?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 08:36 PM

Well almost everyone in the world has African ancestry..that is the starting point for most of us..I did my mother's mother's etc. line..thought it was the Cornish or Native American but turns out it was the Dutch..anyway, they originate in Africa...

Anyway, I am interested in the Black Irish. My father always said his family was...I swear some of his aunts look like Spanish princesses...and he had the Black Irish look...it has traditionally in US at least referred to black hair, usually curly...almost any Irish American I ever saw growing up had that look...square face, black hair...never new of any redheads etc. Of course we weren't a great Irish center...Conan O'Brien did a great piece on how Irishmen hoped to grow square faces, like Ted Kennedy..Sean Hannity has the look I would call Black Irish. Things I have read indicate it might be a very old strain of Irish..the Dingle Peninsula being a stronghold of Spanish influence etc...who knows. They exist. It is hardly an insult..it is a matter of great pride...

You know..I always thought growing up, and only being half Irish ... that it was something you knew was very important but should also be humble about..and be especially humble if you were Black Irish and of course descended from kings etc...as every one was of course. But you shouldn't brag about it because not everyone had these social advantages etc...of course not everyone else saw it that way...mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 01:37 AM

I have always heard (and used) the term "black Irish" to mean Ulster Protestants (as distinct from Catholics) in the settlement of the eastern seaboard of the US. As I understand it, the predominant entry point was Chesaspeake Bay and the route was into the Shenandoah and Great Virginia Valley and thence southwest, thus settling the piedmont areas of the south eastern states because tidewater lands were already settled. Does this make sense? Or is it another kind of "Armada" myth?

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Declan
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 03:39 AM

Just read through most of this thread.

As with the other Irish people who have contributed over the years, I was unaware of the term Black Irish until reading the threads on here.

Ireland has had various "invaders" over the years who have been assimilated into the native population and became "More Irish than the Irish themselves".

As with most other nationalities any talk of "racial purity" is simply dangerous nonsense. Film maker Bob Quinn made a film called "Atlantean" (in the '70s I think). In it he sought to question the consensus that the Irish are mostly of Celtic origin. There is little doubt that Gaelic is a celtic based language, but this is a cultural rather than a racial thing.

He cited sailors coming from Iberia, and further south (e.g. Morocco) as a possible source of the dark sallow skinned people to be found on the western seaboard. These were not from the Spanish Armada per se but part of trading links that would have existed between the areas. I'm not sure to what extent he would have felt he proved his thesis. He was mainly making the point that it was as plausible as the Celtic 'mythology' which mainly grew out of romantic notions in the late years of the 19th century. The term Atlantean was to refer to people who travelled to Ireland via the Atlantic rather than anything to do with Atlantis as far as I know.

Among his theories was that the Bodhran resembled closely a drum which was in use by the Berber people in North Africa. Certainlyh an import we could have done without ;~) Also in another of Bob Quinn's films "Poitin", when one of the characters turns on the radio some North African music comes out. Quinn put this in - mischievously I think, to see if anyone would notice.

The norse invaders (Danes/Vikings) were known as Dubh Ghaill (Dark foreigners) and Fionn Ghaill (Fair foreigners). These terms live on in various place names such as Fingal - North county Dublin and Baldoyle (Baile Dubh Ghaill) to the north east of Dublin. I heard someone assert on the radio recently that red hair was unknown in Ireland prior to the vikings, but I don't know whether they had any proof of this.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir - arís!
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 01:57 PM

I've been busy OK? Is no one on this thread aware of the DNA studies
over the past decade? The Y-chromosome studies all indicate that Ireland and Britain were colonized after the last Ice Age by folks from the Basque country. The "haplotype" is called R1b and except for Leinster is present in over 90% of Irish males in the other three provinces. Leinster is 72% possibly due to Anglo-Normans. Could that explain why almost half of Irish people are dark haired?
In my experience most Irish are bemused by all this Spanish Armada business and just let the Yanks spout their "knowledgeable ignorance" about the subject. (Probably wondering why the subject is even thought about.) In case some Irish people haven't noticed, according to Americans, everyone in Ireland is redheaded; and if they aren't something is fishy.
Over 90% of Irish people are fair skinned, although there are some a little darker in the Midlands (descended from Welsh-Norman stock?) Dark hair is not confined to the west coast but is found throughout the island.
The book "Ireland: Graveyard of the Spanish Armada" by Kilfeather chronicles the events and refutes the Armada survivors theory.
There are dark-haired Icelanders of Irish descent who pre-date the Armada. An anthropological study of Ireland was conducted by Harvard University (Hooton)in the 1950s so the info is there if someone is interested. The DNA evidence also contradicts Mr Quinn.
It was my impression that a troll is someone who justs wants to stir up things, not someone who actually contributes something.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 02:43 PM

I have never heard an American say that all Irish were red-headed. That is just plain nuts and insulting besides. Although I did come across a fair number in South Boston once. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuaiteoir
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 03:01 PM

We certainly have some testiness on this site. Yes it is nuts but take a look at St Patrick's Day cards and the image in the media. I don't see how you can miss it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 07:10 PM

A fair number of redheads?...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: michaelr
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 08:22 PM

Guest, cuaetoir: It's certainly been suggested that there was migration to Ireland from the Iberian peninsula. The Basque aspect is new to me. Is there any suggestion that the Basque and Gaelic languages might be related?

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 08:53 PM

michaelr

It's certainly been suggested that there was migration to Ireland from the Iberian peninsula.

I'm working my way through a rather clumsily written book about this at the moment - The Origins of the British, Stephen Oppenheimer. See here for more information. How well accepted this is by mainstream archaeologists or linguists, I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Rowan
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 10:48 PM

Interesting!
At one stage in the 1960s it was accepted that at least a third of the population in Australia had at least some Irish ancestry (I'm one of the ones that missed out, explaining my difficulty with Irish decoration of tunes) but I'd never heard the term "black Irish" until I visited South Carolina in 1991. The fact that I'd not heard it is no evidence that it wasn't used, of course, but I suspect I'd have heard it if it had had reasonable currency.

When I did hear the term, in SC, it was in the context of a discussion about the differences between slaves (we'd been to Charleston and seen the remnants of the slave marketplace there) and the indentured labourers from Ireland. The locals were telling me that a fit and healthy slave had much the same capital value as a D9 dozer and, while there was a lot of abuse of such people, it was in the owners' interests to maintain the value of their capital investment. There was no such "interest" in maintaining the health and fitness of indentured labourers, used (during the period being discussed) as the major labour force to drain the mosquito-infested swamps of the Carolinas.

The indentured labourers in these swamps were almost all Irish (according to my informants) and died in extraordinarily high numbers and the term "black Irish" took on a different meaning, not necessarily "accurate" in this thread, but still evocative.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: mg
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 11:41 PM

There are probably multiple definitions applied to what is a very interesting term. I was just talking to someone at the LDS church near me and she said a lot of Irish came in through the Carolinas..I knew New Orleans and of course Boston, Baltimore, Quebec, New York, New Brunswick..also ports up the Missippi. Also labor was in such demand in the midwest that farmers somehow met boats somewhere and carried immigrants off to the midwest...

Anyway, it is hardly an unheard of category. I heard it when I was probably 5, because my father told us that he was one, according to his definition...I think many people use it to mean the black curly hair..so the very distinction of being Irish (as he was) was further enhanced by being black Irish. They were very proud of it and rightly so..same as a redhead or blond or whatever should be proud...don't begrudge anyone their pride, especially if they have struggled mightily in dangerous or low-paying jobs, etc. etc. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 03:07 AM

Gaelic and Basque are not related except in the sense that most human languages are related. Gaelic is a member of the Indo-European group, while Basque is not; it is generally considered by linguists to be a unique neolithic survival.

Recent reports of genetic links between people in the Basque country and people in Wales have frequently been misunderstood by subscribers to the relatively modern romantic notions of the 'pan Celticists' as indicating that the Basques are Celts. In fact, the reverse is indicated: that the Welsh, on the whole, are not, genetically speaking, 'Celts' at all, but descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of Western Europe who were here long before the historical Celts arrived.

Recent studies seem to suggest that the same is true of many of the people living in Ireland, Scotland and England today. The pre-Celts of the British Isles appear to have adopted Celtic languages and much of the culture without absorbing a particularly large genetic input. The Basques, perhaps for geographical reasons, retained their original language.

This has been fairly obvious to linguists for quite a long time, but it's only now that genetics seem to be confirming that we have been labouring under some pretty big historical misapprehensions for a good few centuries.

Interesting times.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 03:48 AM

I will dig out a book I read a few years ago and give detail but I think the general conclusion was that "The Celts" were not a straightforward "racial" group with a land and leadership but a culture based in trade carried through the river systems of Europe.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 04:58 AM

That has long been the academic, as opposed to romantic, opinion; it helped to explain inconsistencies between the linguistic and archaeological evidence and the historical orthodoxy. My point, though, is that the old orthodoxies, and the traditional 'explanations', are going to need a lot of revision in the light of new information.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 05:13 AM

Is being Celtic a bit like people in England in Roman times being in some senses "Roman"?

Stands back and awaits storm of something or other?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 05:30 AM

In the British islands, being Celtic is to a large extent simply proclaiming being not-English. Hence a tendency to lump a mixed set of heritages under one umbrella title. On the Continent, this is perhaps a similar tendency but the differential here is "pre-Roman" rahter than "pre-Anglo-Saxon" - or are they all "pre-Teutonic" and the great Volkwanderung?

The ideas of Centic culture were largely built around the finds of the La Tene culture. Now it has been pointed out that the great cauldron actually shows scenes from Indian mythology, perhaps the Hindus are really Celts?

Joking aside, despite its myriad flaws on closer looks, the overall concept of a common trans-European Celtic culture still has much use, and considerable life in it. Providing it is understood as a convenient shorthand not a prescription.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 09:49 AM

Hey mg,
"A fair number of redheads?..." If you consider 10% of the population a fair number, or maybe you were just noticing it more. I have sometimes imagined an American couple travelling through Ireland, spotting a redhead and almost crashing their car to get a photo of the individual (meanwhile ignoring the more typical brunet folks).
This entire discussion seems to come down to the fact that the Irish don't look "Irish enough" for Americans. Constantly being fed the red-haired stereotype they search for some rationale to explain away the folks who don't fit their preconceptions. The Armada bit gives them "something to hang their hat on" as they say in the legal profession.
Similarly, in a discussion of "faux Irish bars" the following:
"These places were designed for a very particular market, namely, Americans. Americans like things to be the way they want them to be. If they go to an Irish pub they want their childish and simple-minded perception of what an Irish pub is to go unchallenged. To seek out truths and realities about other cultures takes too much effort."
I guess this discussion will be around as long as some Irish have to endure the Spanish Armada myth.
The Barbados spin sounds highly improbable to me: again DNA analysis could prove or disprove.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 06:57 PM

"Celtic" is about language, not about "race".

Isn't red hair in Ireland generally supposed to come from the Danes?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 07:52 PM

I guess the Armada theory is just more sexy which is why people like to tell it and why it persists.. (its not as interesting to say the 'black Irish' are those with black hair, or possibly from the Basque connections.)

I had no idea it was debunked.

Regarding the Celts in Europe - In my birth country Czechoslovakia
prior to 600Ad it was mainly populated by the Boii celtic tribe
(hence the name Bohemia - home of the Boii)
IN my home town Tabor they found a bronze celtic boar kancik
in 1869.

Celts were found as far east as the western desert of China
(The Tocharians) I remember seeing a NOVA episode a few years ago
during the burial excavation they found Tartan cloth.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 08:25 PM

You know, stereotyping Americans is just as ugly as stereotyping Irish or any other group of people. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 08:21 AM

mg,
   I think Irish people are probably more knowledgeable about Americans (thanks to the pervasive influence of the American media) than Americans are about the Irish (thanks to the same media).
   If the American stereotype is a jingoistic ethnocentric with little knowledge about, or respect for, other cultures, is that far off the mark?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 01:31 PM

"jingoistic ethnocentric with little knowledge about, or respect for, other cultures,"

If you believe most Americans are like this I think you are wrong and what you have created is a stereotype.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,Cuairteoir
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM

What is this thread about? Why was the term "Black Irish" (which first appears in print in the 1880s) coined in the first place?
To explain away the presence of dark hair among the Irish, who I gather, aren't supposed to have dark hair?
Therefore, these Irish who don't conform to the preconceived image have to be the result of some "foreign" intrusion into the populace.
Consider for a moment that the original population was of a darker coloration and that the lighter-haired population is the result of a "Scandinavian Armada"?
As Drew Carey put it once "I know it's true - but I don't want it to be true!"
Síocháin, Heddwch, Peace.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Irish: Etymological Consensus?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 04:18 PM

Well, we have left our blood all over the world fighting for the rights well, mainly the survival, of other cultures..some of which we surely do not understand..all maybe. We have painfully but progressively incorporated people from all sorts of other cultures..of course taking the land away from indigenous people here..with time and a cruel grindstone we have sort of made an uberculture of America..but not totally...

You sound just rude and abusive frankly so have a cheery day. mg


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Subject: RE: Balck Irish Jews???
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:44 PM

I have just found some papers from my mother's belongings referring to our ancestary, black Irish Jews. This is the 1st time I had ever heard of this term and thought I would look it up. I can't find a link specifically to that term. Anyone have any ideas?


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