Ole Island; FORGET THE CELTS, WE'RE DESCENDED FROM SPANIARDS SAY DNA EXPERTS

The Mirror (London, England), September 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Ole Island; FORGET THE CELTS, WE'RE DESCENDED FROM SPANIARDS SAY DNA EXPERTS


Byline: FIONA WYNNE

OUR roots should have given us jokes about Manuel the Irishman and castanets instead of penny whistles, time detectives have found.

And it's because we're not Celtic after all - we're Spanish.

Our ancestors came from the Costa del Sol and headed north when the weather warmed up after the Ice Age.

Scientists from Trinity College, Dublin, have disproved the old belief that Ireland was invaded by the Celts more than 2,500 years ago.

The Spanish beat them to it by more than 6,000 years.

Around 15,000 years ago ice covered Ireland, Britain and a lot of northern Europe.

Prehistoric man retreated back to Spain, Italy and Greece which remained fairly temperate.

When the ice started melting 12,000 years ago, people followed it northwards as areas became habitable again.

Author of the study Brian McEvoy said: "The primary genetic legacy of Ireland seems to have come from people from Spain and Portugal after the last ice age.

"They seem to have come up along the coast through western Europe and arrived in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"It's not due to something that happened 2,500 years ago with Celts. We have a very old genetic legacy."

McEvoy is a PhD student in Trinity's department of genetics.

He will present the findings of his study at the Irish Society of Human Genetics annual meeting today.

During the research he and Dan Bradley took samples of mitochondria DNA from 200 volunteers around Ireland using cheek swabs.

They also compiled a database of more than 8,500 individuals from around Europe and analysed them for similarities and matches. …

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