Pubs Irish and otherwise around Australia and the globe enjoyed ‘craic’ing Guinness sales yesterday courtesy of another St. Patricks day, but clouds shroud the Celtic spirit.
In Sydney, the annual and spectacular St. Patricks day parade was cancelled due to last year’s bad weather.
The event incurred serious rain in 2015 and the organisers a $150,000 debt in the process. City of Sydney was unable to fund it this year when organisers attempted to move to Bondi to avoid the light rail construction closing parts of George Street.
They hope the debt will be covered in time for next year’s parade.
Meanwhile, in the Emerald Isle, bones dug up in the backyard of an Irish pub have come to question the entire understanding of what is Celtic.
The owner of McCuaig’s Bar in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, found the ancient remains of three people that have since been dated to around 2,000 BC. DNA analysis shows they are the direct ancestors of the modern Irish people.
The problem is, for hundreds of years it has been taught and believed that the Irish genome and culture stem largely from the Celtic people of middle Europe, who supposed invaded Ireland somewhere between 1,000 and 500 BC. The DNA shows this is not correct.
“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Oxford professor of archaeology and author of books on the origins of the people of Ireland, Barry Cunliffe.
Ireland’s association with the word and concept of Celtic is widespread – from Irish poet Yeats’ book Celtic Twilight, to America’s de-facto Irish capital Boston and its baseball team the Celtics.
Celtic is a well-defined class of languages that includes Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. The traditional view that they began in Europe and spread west has been questioned in recent years by linguists. Inscriptions on artefacts found in Portugal strongly resemble Celtic, yet date back to 700 BC – far from the Celt origins in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
The University of Wales proposes that Celtic languages were in fact not imports to the region, but instead developed in the British Isles and spread westward – the reverse of convention beliefs.
For several decades archaeologists have had similar theories, pointing to the path traced by digs of Celtic sites dating back to 800 BC. In 1955, Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien (author of the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings novels) described the vague and all-purpose understanding of ‘Celtic’ in a lecture.
“‘Celtic’ of any sort is … a magic bag into which anything may be put, and out of which almost anything may come … Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the Gods as of the reason.”
While the new DNA evidence may bring into question the origins of the Celtic languages and whether they should not enjoy a more appropriate name, and the applicability of the Celtic branding to the free-spirited people of Ireland, the global influence of Irish culture should leave no doubt that it was the emerald isle folk that indeed conquered Europe, not the other way around as history has always stated.