About eighty million people today can trace their descent back to the occupants of Ireland. But where did they come from – and what do we mean by ‘Irish’? The Origins of the Irish is the first major attempt for almost a century to deal with the core issues of how the Irish people came into being.
Written as an engrossing detective story and illustrated with informative drawings and maps, this is essential reading for anyone who is interested in Ireland and the Irish.
Scholars have puzzled over the riddle of Irish origins for over a thousand years, but without any clear resolution. The medieval Irish created an elaborate narrative of their origins that has haunted generations of archaeologists, linguists and even modern geneticists. This authoritative and brilliantly argued book emphasizes that the Irish did not have a single origin, but are a product of multiple influences that can only be tracked by employing archaeology, genetics, geology, linguistics and mythology.
Beginning with the geological collision that fused the two halves of Ireland, the author traces Ireland’s long journey to become an island. He examines the sources of Ireland’s earliest colonists and why they might have sought out one of the most impoverished places of Europe to settle.
The origins of the first farmers and their impact on the island are followed by an exploration of how metallurgists in copper, bronze and iron brought Ireland into wider orbits of European culture. Traditional explanations of Irish prehistory are assessed in the light of the very latest genetic research into the origins of the Irish. The author also tackles the vexed question of the Celts and the sources of the Irish language.