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Thread: Vikings in Ireland: Traces of Warriors Not Just Buried Beneath the Ground, They Are in the DNA

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    Vikings in Ireland: Traces of Warriors Not Just Buried Beneath the Ground, They Are in the DNA



    By Joanna Gillan

    As science progresses and archaeologists are forging new positive relationships with developers around Irish heritage, more secrets from Ireland’s Viking past are coming to light, and they are not just found in burial grounds, unearthed dwellings, and old settlements; they can be found in the DNA of the modern-day Irish people. The Vikings may have only been present in Ireland for three centuries – a drop in the ocean compared to its long and dramatic history – but recent research is showing that their influence was far greater than previously realised.

    Recent Research Shows Viking Influence Has Been Heavily Underestimated

    It has long been known that the Vikings – in Ireland’s case, the Norse and the Danes – eventually settled down and lived alongside the Irish clans, in some cases intermarrying and allying themselves with Irish chieftains.

    “As early as the middle of the ninth century we hear of a mixed race called the Gall-Gael (Gaill-Gaedhil) of partly Scandinavian and partly Irish blood, who began to collect formidable armies. Intermarriage and settlement must thus have been frequent at a date when it is customary to think of the Norse as mere occasional raiders along the coasts.” (Hull, 1931).



    The intermingling between the Vikings and the Irish is reflected in many of the surnames present in Ireland today: Doyle (son of the dark foreigner), MacAuliffe (son of Olaf), and MacManus (son of Manus), all originate from Viking warriors who married Irish women. Other Norse names found in Ireland include Cotter, Dowdall, Dromgoole, Gould, Harold, Howard, Loughlin, Sweetman and Trant.

    Viking Genes in Ireland

    It was widely assumed that the genetic contribution of Vikings to the Irish was relatively small, with just a few surviving surnames as their legacy. Supporting this belief was a genetic study conducted in (2006), which showed little remaining signature of the Viking ages in Irish DNA (McEvoy, B., et al., 2006). However, it only examined the paternal line of Irish individuals that carried Norse surnames and used only one percent of available genetic information.

    A more rigorous study conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin in December, 2017, revealed that the Vikings’ genetic contribution to Irish DNA had been largely underestimated. Their research pieced together a ‘DNA atlas’ using the genetics of 536 Irish men and women. Their results turned up a “surprising level” of Norwegian related ancestry, predominately from counties on the north or western coasts of Norway, where Norse Viking activity originated from.

    “The effect of the Norse Vikings on the genetic landscape of Ireland seems to be shared across Ireland, and not limited to regions of Norse settlement, e.g. Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin,” the study authors reported in their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports."



    Just weeks later, another study concurred that the Vikings made a lasting impression on the DNA map of Ireland. Scientists from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at Cambridge, and University College London, mapped genetic similarities and differences between almost 1,000 Irish individuals and more than 6,000 from Britain and mainland Europe. They also found that the Irish have far more Viking ancestry than previously discovered.

    “Of all the European populations considered, ancestral influence in Irish genomes was best represented by modern Scandinavians and northern Europeans, with a significant single-date one-source admixture event overlapping the historical period of the Norse-Viking settlements in Ireland,” the study authors wrote in the journal PLOS One."

    Unlike the study conducted by the Royal College which found the genetic traces of Vikings spread across the whole of Ireland, the Trinity College study found that the strongest signals were in the south and central Leinster (consistent with the largest recorded Viking settlement in Ireland based in present-day Dublin), followed by Connacht and north Leinster/Ulster.

    “The long and complex history of population dynamics in Ireland has left an indelible mark on the genomes of modern inhabitants of the island” co-author of the study Professor Russell McLaughlin told the MailOnline."

    Renegade

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    Irish Roots: Viking surnames



    True hereditary surnames were only introduced in Scandinavia in the late 18th century


    There is no such thing as a Viking surname. True hereditary surnames were only introduced in Scandinavia in the late 18th century, more than 700 years after the heyday of Viking expansion. Hereditary surnames still don’t exist in that most Viking of countries, Iceland, where personal names continue to last only a single generation.



    So why does Sean de Bhulbh’s magisterial Sloinnte na hÉireann: Irish Surnames list no fewer than 97 Irish names that have Norse or Viking roots? All the stranger when you consider surnames only began to be widely adopted in Ireland from the 11th century, well after Viking power in Ireland was broken. But there is no doubt about the origins of these names: McAuliff, son of Olaf; Groarke, Mag Ruairc, son of Hrothkekr; McBirney, son of Bjorn; Reynolds, Mac Raghnall, from the Norse first name Ragnall. Some might have originated with Gaels imitating their neighbours, but the simplest explanation is that Viking settlers adopted Gaelic naming practices, dropping their own single-generation names.



    Other Norse-origin names provide evidence of the importance of those naming practices. Doyle is Ó Dubhghaill, from dubh, “dark”, and gall, “foreigner”, a descriptive formula first used to describe the invading Vikings, and in particular to distinguish darker-haired Danes from fair-haired Norwegians. O’Loughlin and Higgins both stem directly from words meaning literally “Viking”, Lochlann in Irish and Uigínn, an Irish version of the Norse Vikinger. These names are permanent badges of otherness – think “Johnny Foreigner” – but families were perfectly prepared to adopt and endure them, a measure of just how intense was the need to have a hereditary and patronymic surname in medieval Ireland.



    We adopted them early and we adopted them with gusto. Extended family networks were the very essence of Gaelic society: what better way of flagging your network than embodying it in your name?



    Which is why there were no Viking surnames except for Irish Viking surnames.


    Irish Roots: Viking surnames

    https://www.irishtimes.com/.

    02 I 2021.

    One of my Geography teachers Mr Edmundson several times remarked " There were no towns in Ireland of Irish origin, it wasn't the Gaelic custom to build towns. The Irish towns were Viking founded with good ports - Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick, etc."



    Hardly a century of Surnames in Iceland.



    Icelandic Surnames - Nordic Names Wiki - Name Origin ...

    https://www.nordicnames.de/wiki/Icelandic_Surnames
    From Nordic Names -
    www.nordicnames.de - All rights reserved. In Iceland the use of surnames is forbidden by a law, which passed in 1925. There are a few exceptions: If a family had a surname before 1925, they have been allowed to keep using it. Thus, only about 10 % of the Icelanders have a hereditary surname, most commonly a (Danish) secondary patronym or a farm name both from Iceland and from …


    Again everything is inter-connected.

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