Irish People

For other uses, see: Irishman (disambiguation).
Irish people
Muintir na hÉireann
Airish fowk
1st row: George Best

2nd row: Saint Brigid

3rd row: General Michael Collins

Total population
Estimated 80,000,000 people who claim Irish ancestry[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Ireland 4,500,000
 United States 40,000,000+ [2]
 United Kingdom 6,000,000 [3]
 Canada 4,354,155 [4]
 Australia 5,900,000 [5]
 Argentina 1,000,000 [6]
 Mexico 600,000 [7]
Other Regions



Predominantly Religion in Ireland)

Related ethnic groups

Irish diaspora)

* Around 800,000 Irish born people reside in Britain, with around 14,000,000 people claiming Irish ancestry.[8]

The Irish people ([12]

The main groups that interacted with the Irish in the Middle Ages include the Anglo-Saxons are known in Ireland from much earlier times.

There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. The 6th century Irish monk and missionary [15]

Large populations of people of Irish ethnicity live in many western countries, particularly in English-speaking countries. Historically, emigration has been caused by politics, famine and economic issues. An estimated 50 to 80 million people make up the Brazil. The largest number of people of Irish descent live in the United States – about ten times more than in Ireland itself.


[edit] Origins and antecedents

In its summary of their article ‘Who were the Celts?’ the [17]

[edit] Prehistoric and legendary ancestors

Carrowmore tomb, 6000 BC

During the past 8,000 years of inhabitation, Ireland has witnessed many different peoples arrive on its shores. The ancient peoples of Ireland — such as the creators of the 1st millennium the inhabitants of Ireland did not appear to have a collective name for themselves.

Ireland itself was known by a number of different names, including Romans.

Viking, as it describes an activity (raiding, piracy) and its proponents, not their actual ethnic affiliations.

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History of Ireland

The terms Irish and Ireland are derived[citation needed] from the goddess Ériu.[18] A variety of historical ethnic groups have inhabited the island, including the Airgialla, Fir Ol nEchmacht, Delbhna, Fir Bolg, Érainn, Eóganachta, Mairtine, Conmaicne, Soghain, and Ulaid. In the cases of the Conmaicne, Delbhna, and perhaps Érainn, it can be demonstrated that the tribe took their name from their chief deity, or in the case of the Ciannachta, Eóganachta, and possibly the Soghain, a deified ancestor. This practise is paralleled by the Anglo-Saxon dynasties claims of descent from Woden, via his sons Wecta, Baeldaeg, Casere and Wihtlaeg.

The Francis John Byrne; the early chapters of their respective books, Early Irish history and mythology (reprinted 2004) and Irish Kings and High-Kings (3rd revised edition, 2001), deal in depth with the origins and status of many Irish ancestral deities.

One legend states that the Irish were descended from one dogma that all Irish were descendants of Míl, ignoring the fact that their own works demonstrated inhabitants in Ireland prior to his supposed arrival.

This Lebor Gabála Érenn.

This tradition was enhanced and embedded in the tradition by successive historians such as Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh (murdered 1671).

[edit] Genetics

The frequency of Y-DNA [23]

However, this haplogroup is now believed by some to have originated over 12,000 years more recently than previously thought.mesolithic central Europe and modern European populations mainly due to an extremely high frequency of haplogroup U (particularly U5) types in mesolithic central European sites.

That there exists an especially strong genetic association between the Irish and the Basques, one even closer than the relationship between other west Europeans, was first challenged in 2005,Welsh.

[edit] History

[edit] Early expansion and the coming of Christianity

One Roman historian records that the Irish people were divided into “sixteen different nations” or tribes.[31]

Among the most famous people of ancient Irish history are the Fenian Cycle were purely fictional, it would still be representative of the character of the Irish people:

…such beautiful fictions of such beautiful ideals, by themselves presume and prove beautiful-souled people, capable of appreciating lofty ideals.[32]

The introduction of Christianity to the Irish people during the 5th century brought a radical change to the Irish people’s foreign relations.[33] In the words of Seumas MacManus:

If we compare the history of Ireland in the 6th century, after Christianity was received, with that of the 4th century, before the coming of Christianity, the wonderful change and contrast is probably more striking than any other such change in any other nation known to history.[33]

Following the conversion of the Irish to Christianity, Irish secular laws and social institutions remained in place.[34]

[edit] Migration and invasion in the Middle Ages

The approximate area of the Dál Riata (shaded)

Around the 5th century, Gaelic language and culture spread from Ireland to what is now the west of Scotland via the Dál Riata. These Gaels soon spread out to most of the rest of the country. “Scoti” is the name given by the Romans earlier in the millennium who encountered the inhabitants of Ireland. The Gaelic cultural and linguistic dominance of northern Britain is the origin of the name “Scotland”. The territories of the Gaels and the Picts merged to form the Kingdom of Alba. The modern Scottish people have therefore been influenced historically by both the Irish people and the English people to the south. The Isle of Man and the Manx people also came under massive Gaelic influence in their history.

Irish missionaries such as Bobbio Abbey in Italy.

Common to both the monastic and the secular bardic schools were Irish and [37]

“The knowledge of Greek”, says Professor Sandys in his History of Classical Scholarship, “which had almost vanished in the west was so widely dispersed in the schools of Ireland that if anyone knew Greek it was assumed he must have come from that country.”‘[38]

Since the time of [39]

The influx of [14]

The arrival of the Anglo-Normans brought also the Welsh, Flemish, Anglo-Saxons, and Bretons. Most of these were assimilated into Irish culture and polity by the 15th century, with the exception of some of the walled towns and the Pale areas.[34] The Late Middle Ages also saw the settlement of Scottish gallowglass families of mixed Gaelic-Norse -Pict descent, mainly in the north; due to similarities of language and culture they too were assimilated.

[edit] Surnames

The Irish were among the first people in Europe to use surnames as we know them today.Mc” (less frequently “Mac” and occasionally shortened to just “Ma” at the beginning of the name).

“O'” comes from the Gaelic Ó which in turn came from Ua, which means “O’Toole).

“Mac” or “Mc” means “son”. Names that begin with Mac or Mc include Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Mac Cárthaigh (Ulster than in the rest of Ireland; furthermore, “Ó” is far less common in Scotland than it is in Ireland. The proper surname for a woman in Irish uses the feminine prefix nic (meaning daughter) in place of mac. Thus a boy may be called Mac Domhnaill whereas his sister would be called Nic Dhomhnaill or Ní Dhomhnaill – the insertion of ‘h’ follows the female prefix in the case of most consonants (bar H, L, N, R, & T).

A son has the same surname as his father. A female’s surname replaces Ó with Ní (reduced from Iníon Uí – “daughter of the grandson of”) and Mac with Nic (reduced from Iníon Mhic – “daughter of the son of”); in both cases the following name undergoes lenition. However, if the second part of the surname begins with the letter C or G, it is not lenited after Nic.[citation needed] Thus the daughter of a man named Ó Maolagáin has the surname Ní Mhaolagáin and the daughter of a man named Mac Gearailt has the surname Nic Gearailt. When anglicised, the name can remain O’ or Mac, regardless of gender.

There are a number of Irish surnames derived from Norse personal names, including Reynolds is an Anglicization of the Gaelic Mac Raghnaill, itself originating from the Norse names Randal or Reginald. Though these names were of Viking derivation some of the families who bear them appear to have had Gaelic origins.

“Fitz” is an old Norman French variant of the Old French word fils (variant spellings filz, fiuz, fiz, etc.), used by the Normans, meaning son. The Normans themselves were descendants of Vikings, who had settled in Normandy and thoroughly adopted the French language and culture.[43] With the exception of the Gaelic-Irish Fitzpatrick (Mac Giolla Phádraig) surname, all names that begin with Fitz – including FitzGerald (Mac Gearailt), Fitzsimons (Mac Síomóin/Mac an Ridire) and FitzHenry (Mac Anraí) – are descended from the initial Norman settlers. A small number of Irish families of Gaelic origin came to use a Norman form of their original surname—so that Mac Giolla Phádraig became Fitzpatrick – while some assimilated so well that the Gaelic name was dropped in favor of a new, Hiberno-Norman form. Another common Irish surname of Norman Irish origin is the ‘de’ habitational prefix, meaning ‘of’ and originally signifying prestige and land ownership. Examples include de Búrca (Burke), de Brún, de Barra (Barry), de Stac (Stack), de Tiúit, de Faoite (White), de Londras (Landers), de Paor (Power). The Irish surname “Walsh” (in Gaelic Breathnach) was routinely given to settlers of Welsh origin, who had come during and after the Norman invasion. The Joyce and Griffin/Griffith (Gruffydd) families are also of Welsh origin.

The Mac Lochlainn, Ó Maol Seachlainn, Ó Maol Seachnaill, Ó Conchobhair Mac Loughlin and Mac Diarmada Mac Loughlin families, all distinct, are now all subsumed together as MacLoughlin. The full surname usually indicated which family was in question, something that has being diminished with the loss of prefixes such as Ó and Mac. Different branches of a family with the same surname sometimes used distinguishing epithets, which sometimes became surnames in their own right. Hence the chief of the clan Ó Cearnaigh (Kearney) was referred to as An Sionnach (Fox), which his descendants use to this day. Similar surnames are often found in Scotland for many reasons, such as the use of a common language and mass Irish migration to Scotland in the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries.

[edit] Late Medieval and Tudor Ireland

Gaelic Irish soldiers in the Albrecht Dürer

The Irish people of the Late Middle Ages were active as traders on the European continent.[45]

An English report of 1515 states that the Irish people were divided into over sixty Gaelic lordships and thirty Anglo-Irish lordships.John Davies described the Irish people with respect to their laws:

There is no people under the sun that doth love equal and indifferent (impartial) justice better than the Irish, or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves, as they may have the protection and benefit of the law upon which just cause they do desire it.[46]

The Gaelic scribes and poets reflected the broad education of the Irish learned classes

Another English commentator records that the assemblies were attended by “all the scum of the country”—the labouring population as well as the landowners.[34]

As a clan-based society, Irish medical families).

[edit] Plantations

Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish scientist and father of chemistry, whose family obtained land in the plantations

After Ireland was subdued by England, the English—under Huguenots as colonists.

Many Gaelic Irish were displaced during the 17th century plantations. Only in the major part of Ulster did the plantations of mostly Scottish prove long-lived; the other three provinces (citation needed].

[edit] Enlightenment Ireland

There have been notable Irish scientists. The Anglo-Irish scientist Robert Boyle (1627–1691) is considered the father of chemistry for his book The Sceptical Chymist, written in 1661.[49] Boyle was an atomist, and is best known for Boyle’s Law. The hydrographer Rear Admiral Francis Beaufort (1774–1857), an Irish naval officer of Huguenot descent, was the creator of the Beaufort scale for indicating wind force. George Boole (1815–1864), the mathematician who invented Boolean algebra, spent the latter part of his life in Cork. The 19th century physicist George Stoney introduced the idea and the name of the electron. He was the uncle of another notable physicist, George FitzGerald.

Jonathan Swift, one of the foremost prose satirists in the English language

The Irish bardic system, along with the [51]

For a comparatively small population of about 6 million people, Ireland made an enormous contribution to literature during the enlightenment. Bram Stoker.

[edit] 19th century

[edit] The Great Hunger

[edit] 20th century

In 1921, with the formation of the [55]

Surnames in the nine-county Province of citation needed]

[edit] Recent history

[edit] Religions

In the Republic of Ireland, as of 2006, 3,681,446 people or about 86.83% of the population claim to be Roman Catholic.[56] In Northern Ireland about 53.1% of the population are Protestant (21.1% Presbyterian, 15.5% Church of Ireland, 3.6% Methodist, 6.1% Other Christian) whilst a large minority are Catholic at approximately 43.8%, as of 2001.

The 31st [59] The idea of faith has affected the question of Irish identity even in relatively recent times, apparently more so for Catholics and Irish-Americans:

What defines an Irishman? His faith, his place of birth? What of the Irish-Americans? Are they Irish? Who is more Irish, a Catholic Irishman such as James Joyce who is trying to escape from his Catholicism and from his Irishness, or a Protestant Irishman like Oscar Wilde who is eventually becoming Catholic? Who is more Irish… someone like C.S. Lewis, an Ulster Protestant, who is walking towards it, even though he never ultimately crosses the threshold?[60]

This has been a matter of concern over the last century for followers of nationalist ideologists such as DP Moran.

[edit] Irish Identity

The question of Irish identity, and what defines Irishness, was elucidated by the prominent Irish nationalist Thomas Davis:

It is not blood that makes you Irish but a willingness to be part of the Irish Nation.[61]

The question of ‘Irishness’ is also examined in the Irish language film citation needed]

[edit] Europe

Ireland joined the Maastricht Treaty signed in 1992. This brought a further question for the future of Irish identity; whether Ireland was “closer to Boston than to Berlin:”

History and geography have placed Ireland in a very special location between America and Europe… As Irish people our relationships with the United States and the European Union are complex. Geographically we are closer to Berlin than Boston. Spiritually we are probably a lot closer to Boston than Berlin. – Mary Harney, Tánaiste, 2000[62]

[edit] Celebrities

Ireland is well known for producing a wealth of famous figures in the arts and media. A number of important figures in science and technology and business have also come from Ireland.

[edit] Irish diaspora

The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and nations of the Caribbean such as Jamaica and Barbados. These countries, known sometimes as the Anglosphere, all have large minorities of Irish descent, who in addition form the core of the Catholic Church in those countries. People of Irish descent also feature strongly in Latin America, especially in Argentina and important minorities in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In 1995, President Mary Robinson reached out to the “70 million people worldwide who can claim Irish descent.”[63] Today the diaspora is believed to contain an estimated 80 million people.[1]

John Carroll, first Roman Catholic bishop and archbishop of the United States

There are also large Irish communities in some mainland European countries, notably in Spain, France and Germany. Between 1585 and 1818, over half a million Irish departed Ireland to serve in the wars on the continent, in a constant emigration romantically styled the “[66]

The most famous cause of emigration was the nationalist movements.

Wexford, Ireland

People of Irish descent are the second largest self-reported ethnic group in the United States, after [76]

In the mid-19th century, large numbers of Irish immigrants were conscripted into [78]

During the 18th and 19th centuries, 300,000 free emigrants and 45,000 convicts left Ireland to settle in Australia.[81]

It is believed that as many as 30,000 Irish people emigrated to Argentina between the 1830s and the 1890s.Mario Testino. Although some Irish retained their surnames intact, others were assimilated into the Spanish vernacular. The last name O’Brien, for example, became Obregón.

People of Irish descent are also one of the largest self-reported ethnic groups in Canada, after English, French and Scottish Canadians. As of 2006, Irish Canadians number around 4,354,155.[4]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ The island history,
  2. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau, 2007″. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  3. ^ “One in four Britons claim Irish roots”. BBC News. 2001-03-16. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  4. ^ Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  5. [1].
  6. ^ An Irish Argentine in the Easter Rising
  7. ^ “Irish Mexican – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  8. ^ Bowcott, Owen (2006-09-13). “More Britons applying for Irish passports | UK news |”. The Guardian (London).,,1871753,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  9. ^ Saint Patrick’s Journey – Monasteries BBC. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  10. ^ Tourism Airlan – Corporate Plen 2008–2010 Tourism Ireland. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  11. 0-7171-2945-4.
  12. ^ M. Virpiranta, Struggles of Sun against Thunder: Development of Druidism and Christianity. Perfect Paperback, 2011.
  13. ^ Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  14. ^ b Smiley, p 630
  15. ^ d MacManus, p 343-344
  16. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
  17. ^
  18. ^[not in citation given]
  19. ^ Mac Manus, p 1 & 7
  20. ^ MacManus, p 1
  21. ^ “Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplogroups”. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  22. ^ Stephen Oppenheimer, The Origins of the British – A Genetic Detective Story, 2006, Constable and Robinson, ISBN 1-84529-158-1
  23. 0-593-05652-3.
  24. ^ “ISOGG 2009″. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  25. ^ Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  26. ^ “Malmström et al 2009″. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  28. 0-521-54697-4.
  29. 20087410. //
  30. ^ c MacManus, p 86
  31. ^ MacManus, p 87
  32. ^ MacManus, p67
  33. ^ c MacManus, p 89
  34. ^ l Nicholls
  35. ^ “Home-grown holy man: Cry God for Harry, Britain and… St Aidan”. The Independent (London). 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  36. ^ MacManus, p 221
  37. ^ MacManus, p 221-222
  38. ^ MacManus, p 215
  39. ^ Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  40. ^ Toman, p 10: “Abelard himself was… together with John Scotus Erigena (9th century), and Lanfranc and Anselm of Canterbury (both 11th century), one of the founders of scholasticism.”
  41. ^ Smiley, p 274
  42. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  43. ^ Richard Hooker. “The Normans”. Washington State University. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  44. ^ MacManus, p 340
  45. 0-85613-922-X.
  46. ^ b MacManus, p 348
  47. ^ MacManus, p 352
  48. ^ Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  49. ^ Boyle on Atheism by J.J. MacIntosh (University of Toronto Press ISBN 978-0-8020-9018-8), page 6
  50. ^ MacManus, p 461
  51. ^ MacManus, p 461-462
  52. ^ “in, Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: The Fifth Report”. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  53. ^ “Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey”. 2003-05-09. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  54. ^ “Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey”. 2003-05-12. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  55. ^ “Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey”. 2003-05-09. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  56. ^ Population classified by religion for relevant censuses from 1881 to 2006 Summary, Central Statistics Office
  57. ^,9171,753335-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  58. ^ John Paul McCarthy; Tomás O’Riordan. “The 31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin, 1932″. University College Cork. Retrieved 2008-06-23. “Newspapers and contemporaries estimated that close to a million souls had converged on the Phoenix Park for the climax of the Congress”
  59. ^ The figure 1,250,000 is mentioned on the commemorative stone at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park, Dublin; a quarter of the population of the island of Ireland, or a third of the population of Republic of Ireland
  60. ^ Pearce, Joseph (March/April 2007). “Editorial: The Celtic Enigma”. St. Austin Review (Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida: Sapientia Press) 7 (2): 1.
  61. ^
  62. ^ Aldous, p 185
  63. ^ “Ireland’s Diaspora”. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  64. ^ Osprey Publishing
  65. ^ McLaughlin, p4
  66. ^ Davies, p 832
  67. ^ David Ross, Ireland: History of a Nation, New Lanark: Geddes & Grosset, 2002, p. 226. ISBN 1-84205-164-4
  68. ^ The Famine that affected Ireland from 1845 to 1852 has become an integral part of folk legend. Kenealy, This Great Calamity, p. 342.
  69. ^ “Irish-American History Month, 1995″. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  70. ^ Maryland Traces Its Irish Roots, Maryland Office of Tourism
  71. ^ “Presidents of the United States with “Irish Roots””. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  72. ^ Marck, John T. “William H. Taft”. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  73. ^ “Warren Gamaliel Harding”. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  74. ^ Marck, John T. “Harry S. Truman”. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  75. ^ “American Presidents with Irish Ancestors”. Directory of Irish Genealogy. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  76. ^ John Barry Kelly. “Commodore Barry”. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  77. ^ Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  78. ^ Mark R. Day. “The San Patricios: Mexico’s Fighting Irish”. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  79. ^ Ryan, Sean (2006). “Botany Bay 1791–1867″. Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library Portumna, Co. Galway. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  80. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). “Australia”. 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
  81. ^ “Australia- Ireland relationship – Australian Embassy”. Retrieved 2010-03-28.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Source: Wikipedia