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Gaelic Celts and the Celtic world

Updated on January 6, 2017
Statue of King Breogan in Galicia, Spain
Statue of King Breogan in Galicia, Spain

Whenever the Celtic world is mentoned, Gaelic Celts are inevitably part of the discussion. But where did these Celts actually come from?

Research from different specialists, including the Oxford University, have found the answer: Spain.

But first, let's take a look at Irish folklore and myth and what they tell us about the history of Ireland.

The Lebor Gabála Érenn ("Book of Invasions"), one of the oldest known Irish texts, gives a detailed explanation of the different peoples who inhabited the island. The first inhabitants are the people of Cessair, leaded by a female character of the same name, whom existed before the times of the Biblical Flood and is said in the book to be a descendant of Noah. Then, later on, the Tuatha de Danaan ("People of the goddess Danu") appeared. Danu is a complex goddess whose origin is uncertain, but it is known for certain that the river Danube, which crosses Germany and Eastern Europe, got its name after her, and it is also known that Hindu mythology, one of the oldest in the world, has a goddess named Danu as well. Then, finally, the Gaels arrived.

Their history is complicated. They are said to descend from Adam, through the sons of Noah. They reached Ireland but spent years wandering the Earth and settled in what today is the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). From there, they sailed to Ireland again and took over the Tuatha de Danaan.

The book of invasions has been accused of many things, from being Christianized later on, to being just pseudo-history. However, scientific research has proven that, in fact, the people of Spain are the closest genetic relatives of the modern Irish. Not only that, but actual studies from the Oxford University concluded that the majority of Britons are descended from the Spanish. Interestingly, more research also proved that some of the Irish are also related to East Europeans, which further proves there is some truth in the Book of Invasions (the goddess Danu, the Danube which crosses Eastern Europe).

The Celts and Iberians were the first inhabitants of modern day Spain. Iberian tribes lived in the Mediterranean coast line, while Celtic tribes lived in the other half of the Peninsula. None of these cultures ever established a single nation of their own (there was no Iberian nation, for example), but rather, they consisted of a cluster of many different tribes with different customs. At the center of the Peninsula, both cultures merged.

The Celtic inhabitants of the northern corner of Spain were called 'Galaicos', a name that is very similar to 'Gaelic'. The region they lived in was and is still called Galicia. In Galicia there is still a statue commemorating king Breogan, which is said to have been the first of the Gaels to arrive to Ireland. After him came the milesians. The people of Galicia still call themselves "Home of Breogan", as can be heard in the anthem of Galicia.



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