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View Full Version : Ireland: a nation of extremes ?



Evan1211
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 09:36 PM
The people of Ireland really confuse me. Since I am mostly Irish, this is of interest to me. Of all of the ethnic Irish that I know, about half are the most depigmented red-haired, white skinned-people, but the other half are very dark haired and very dark brown-skinned people. I have read that the Meds. in Ireland are less than 5 %, but it seems to be 50% with these features. Maybe it is not Med. at all? I dont know. It seems strange that the cloudy Irish isles are home to the lightest and darkest Europeans that I have seen. Please help explain.

Sorry - this is supposed to go in Physical Anth. not the originally posted place.

Vestmannr
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 09:41 PM
Dark haired Irish are most often Brunn, Atlantid, or Keltic Nordic depending upon other characteristics. I don't think any of them have dark skin. While living in Ireland, I noticed that by far the black haired Irish typically had a pasty white skin and freckling - similar to Redheads. Only in the East did I find any that tanned, but no more so than Welshmen. Not sure where you've seen 'brown-skinned' Irishmen, unless you mean Shaquille O'Neil? ;)

Evan1211
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 09:47 PM
The strange thing is, that in the USA, alot of the ethnic Irish (I'll say at least 70% Irish background or more) are dark skinned. My dad is light brown but tans as dark as Amerindians. Its strange. BTW, we are from NW Ireland (last name is Kearney.) The same goes for lots of other Irish I know. But they do always still have light blue eyes (which looks kind of creepy haha.)

Vestmannr
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 10:00 PM
The strange thing is, that in the USA, alot of the ethnic Irish (I'll say at least 70% Irish background or more) are dark skinned. My dad is light brown but tans as dark as Amerindians. Its strange. BTW, we are from NW Ireland (last name is Kearney.) The same goes for lots of other Irish I know. But they do always still have light blue eyes (which looks kind of creepy haha.)

'Nordic' types can tan quite well. That is usually how they have divided up previously: Nordic tans, UP doesn't. I tend to think it is must a characteristic that varies: that the original European population developed tanning in the southern parts of the continent, and the northern parts of the continent preserved or evolved to the lack of tanning. I'm guessing you mean Eastern Woodland Amerindians, as they don't tend to get much darker than 'Italians and Jews', as one early American Colonial writer put it. Amerindians out West get as dark as Dravidians. But, I know what you mean: I'm one of those light eyed, dark haired individuals that can tan as dark as an Assyrian/Chaldean/Syrian/Aramaean looks naturally. If I stay out of the sun, I might as well be a vampire for how white I look (which probably explains my natural attraction to pale white skin, rather than 'tans'. )

Look around at some of the various links to genetic surveys done of Europe. Ireland is pretty much one of the most homogenous countries genetically. It has one of the least amounts of genetic material from the Middle East or Southeastern Europe. Most of its genetic material it shares with the rest of Western Europe along the Atlantic coast. I don't think that the exact genes have been identified in Ireland as to why some are red, others blonde, and most dark brown (even black haired.) Ireland is also one of the areas with the least amount of African influence in Europe. My personal opinion is simply that the dark hair and such in Ireland and the Celtic fringe is an archaic trait from the first Stone Age European population.

Evan1211
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 10:16 PM
I guess that makes sense. In the US, the UP and Nordic mixed causing the black hair and dark skin to be combined.

Scoob
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 10:39 PM
Also, I question the self-reported ethnic origins of Americans not of recent extraction. I've met enough recent immigrants being "creative" with self-descriptions; i.e. Lebanese describing themselves as "European" of "Sicilian" background - i.e., trying to seem European while giving a usually passable reason for looking dark. So I wonder what the real pedigrees of some of these "Irish" are.

Vestmannr
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 10:44 PM
So I wonder what the real pedigrees of some of these "Irish" are.

Yes, because if they are truly 'brown', they are most likely mixed with something non-European. Somewhat like a certain group of the 'Pennsylvania Deutsch' that do have both Native American, Jewish, and even Sinti Gypsy admixture (not all PA Deutsch, mind you.)

nemo
Friday, September 10th, 2004, 10:58 PM
Maybe this will help!

http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/06/11/nswall11.xml

Evan1211
Saturday, September 11th, 2004, 04:58 AM
What an interesting thread. I do know many Americans with Amerindian admixture, that could explain some of the people I describe. I dont know about the Berber mix in Britain though. 500 people couldnt contribute that many genes to the genepool of a nation. I guess the best way to look at what real pigmentation is would be to look at the person in the dead of winter when they would be lightest.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Saturday, September 11th, 2004, 05:48 AM
I worked at a place once full of second, third, fifth and so on, people of Irish ancestry. Still, after a long time, these people retained some Irish cultural ways. One of these is really rough kidding. This became a lot of fun and anyone of Irish ancestry was allowed to take part, so I did.

Hair color and pigmentation was up for discussion. I heard terms like "Black Irish" applied to everyone with dark hair and then an immediate association to any Black American with an Irish last name. Other terms like "kitchen Irish" were also mentioned. Most of these guys all had hair problems, balding, hair grafts, hair dye so this was a lot of laughs. Evidently, there is a dark-haired element among the Irish which they acknowledge.

Vestmannr
Saturday, September 11th, 2004, 05:53 PM
I dont know about the Berber mix in Britain though. 500 people couldnt contribute that many genes to the genepool of a nation. I guess the best way to look at what real pigmentation is would be to look at the person in the dead of winter when they would be lightest.

The Mauritanian unit on Hadrian's Wall was not permanent. Their genetic contribution would be nil. In either case, it means nothing for Irish genetic history - it would only apply to Scots-Irish who are pretty much devoid of any distinct 'African' lineages. That article is rehashing material known for a century, but not telling the whole story: the Mauritanians did not settle *and* the story is part of a political campaign in Scotland to force foreign identity onto the people there, including a campaign to make Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi 'official Scottish languages.'

Vlad Cletus
Saturday, September 11th, 2004, 09:53 PM
Are most redheads really centered in the British Isles, and on mainland Europe they are dispersed?

Vestmannr
Saturday, September 11th, 2004, 10:02 PM
The British Isles, particularly in Scotland and Ireland do have a higher level of redheads than most other parts of Europe - though one also finds high levels in Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia. The figures I had seen were not 'anthropological' but were for marketing purposes, released to hair products companies for product development in 2000. IIRC, the highest number of modern redheads are in Germany - though Scotland and Ireland are right behind.

dazed&confused
Sunday, September 12th, 2004, 12:05 AM
When I was in Ireland (Cork), local people seemed all to have a pale-pinkish skin tone and light eyes. Most of them were dark-haired (from light brown to medium brown) with a significant minority of red-haired, about 5-10% of the population. As far as I understood, red hair are from the UP substrate?

Ljót-fulfr
Sunday, September 12th, 2004, 01:22 AM
I visited the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 2002 -- where the majority of my Scottish ancestors came from. I noticed the natives to have the typical very dark brown to black hair in contrast to very pale, freckly skin (aside from a few blondes and red-heads here and there)-- I myself have very dark-brown hair, very fair, freckly skin, and green eyes. I fit in quite well on the island and aside for my accent could have passed for a native. I even got a bad sun-burn while I was there !!!!!!

I believe the same trait exists in parts of Ireland. The ancestry of the Hebridean islands is a mix of Norse and Keltic -- a similar ancestry for many of the Irish I'm sure.

As for Irish-Americans I can tell you that many of these so-called 'Irish' are nothing more than those bearing a surname or having an Irish granny. A true Scotsman, Irishman, Welshman or Englishman, ect.... do not have dark swarthy people around in their families -- unless there has been a mixing with another race. I find the majority of my fellow Scots in America who are darker skinned (or tan really well) can attribute this to the American Indians who their race-ignorant ancestors mixed with -- and I do not say that to offend anyone. This is particularly true when one leaves the east coast and moves west. The fact that many European settlers of America began to adopt their new identity as 'Americans' and forget they were Europeans is no doubt the cause for the present racial ignorance that exists in this country --- an ignorance I do not share.