Category Archives: IRELAND

Irish DNA originated in the Middle East and Eastern Europe

Ancient DNA Reveals Irish Are Not Celts – Irish Ancestors Came From Biblical Lands – Scientists Say

The possibility that ancient bones were found in County Antrim under an Irish pub in the mid-2000s has cast doubt over whether the Irish people are really linked to ancient Celts.

Bertie Currie clearing the land in 2006 and made a driveway on Rathlin Island off Antrim for McCuaig’s Bar, when he noticed a large, flat stone underneath the surface

Currie realized that there was a large gap underneath the stone and investigated further. 

“I shot the torch in and saw the gentleman, well, his skull and bones,” Currie told the Washington Post. 

He eventually found the remains of three humans and immediately called the police. The police arrived on the scene and discovered that this was not a crime scene but an ancient burial site. 

McCuaig’s Bar, where the bones were found.

It turned out to be a hugely significant ancient burial site as well that, with DNA analysis, could completely alter the perception that Irish people are descended from Celts. 

A number of prominent professors at esteemed universities in Ireland and Britain analyzed the bones and said that the discovery could rewrite Irish history and ancestry. 

DNA researchers found that the three skeletons found under Currie’s pub are the ancestors of modern Irish people and predate the Celts’ arrival on Irish shores by around 1,000 years. 

Essentially, Irish DNA existed in Ireland before the Celts ever set foot on the island. 

Instead, Irish ancestors may have come to Ireland from the Bible lands in the Middle East. They might have arrived in Ireland from the South Meditteranean and would have brought cattle, cereal, and ceramics with them. 

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science said that the bones strikingly resembled those of contemporary Irish, Scottish and Welsh people. 

A retired archaeology professor at the highly-renowned University of Oxford said that the discovery could completely change the perception of Irish ancestry. 

“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Oxford.

Radiocarbon dating at Currie’s McCuaig’s Bar found that the ancient bones date back to at least 2,000 BC, which is hundreds of years older than the oldest known Celtic artifacts anywhere in the world. 

Dan Bradley, a genetics professor at Trinity College, said in 2016 that the discovery could challenge the popular belief that Irish people are related to Celts. 

“The genomes of the contemporary people in Ireland are older — much older — than we previously thought,” he said.

Newgrange: The Massive Irish Tomb That’s Older Than The Pyramids

Newgrange: The Massive Irish Tomb That’s Older Than The Pyramids

Yep, 5,000 years. That’s older than Stonehenge. It’s older than the great Egyptian pyramids, too. And five millennia later, it hasn’t lost any of its wonders.

Newgrange was built around 3200 B.C. — hundreds of years before the Great Pyramid of Giza (2500 B.C.) and Stonehenge (3000 B.C.).

The massive hemispherical tomb is located in the Brú na Bóinne – Gaelic for the “palace” or “mansion” of the River Boyne. This 3-square mile area contains nearly a hundred ancient monuments, including two other large tombs, in addition, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

A map of megalithic monuments in the Brú na Bóinne

Arriving at the iconic tomb is a wow-moment, to say the least. Standing outside the 80-meter mound, shored up with spiral-engraved kerbstones and topped with white Wicklow quartzite, a guide reveals the myths and history behind the monument. Newgrange could have been designed as a tomb or a temple – in reality, nobody knows which. The truth will be shrouded in mystery forever.

Let there be light…

Once the scene has been set for you as a visitor, you’ll step inside the passage tomb itself, squeezing through standing stones carved with spiraling rock art and graffiti dating back to the 1800s (before Newgrange was taken into State care).

Ducking under beams of wood, you’ll emerge into the cool confines of a cruciform-shaped chamber like a stony igloo squirreled away within a hill.

The engraved stone at the entrance to Newgrange.

This inner sanctum is where a lucky few (chosen by lottery from thousands of applicants annually) huddle together to witness the annual winter solstice illumination.

The illuminated inner corridor of Newgrange.

At this moment, when megalithic engineering and nature lock sensationally into sync, a shaft of light can be seen snaking 19 meters up the passageway, ultimately bathing the chamber in light. There are goosebumps, to say the least…

If you’re not one of the lucky ones, don’t fret. All visitors are treated to a simulated solstice, with an orange beam of light artificially showcasing the effect. It’s a tantalizing little taster – little wonder legend suggests that this was the site where mythological hero Cú Chulainn was Born.

Subterranean secrets…

A young girl stands in front of the entrance to Newgrange in about 1905

Newgrange isn’t the only passage tomb in Ireland, of course. In fact, it’s not the only passage tomb at Brú na Bóinne. Together with nearby Knowth and Dowth, Newgrange has declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1993. Not bad for a site that once looked destined to become a quarry!

Not far away, near Oldcastle, County Meath, you’ll find a lesser-known cluster of passage tombs. Spotted around a handful of hills at Loughcrew are several cairns also dating from around 3,200BC. Because they’re more obscure and harder to get to, the Indiana Jones effect is all the more titillating.

If you get the sense that you’re being watched here, you may well be right. Some 60km away, atop of Slieve Gillian in County Armagh, the passage of another tomb points directly back towards Loughcrew.

Slieve Gillian’s two cairns lie on either side of a summit lake, with the southern tomb said to have a winter solstice alignment at sunset. On a good day, the views stretch as far as Dublin Bay.

Archaeologist hails ‘extraordinary’ Viking village find in Dublin

Archaeologist hails ‘extraordinary’ Viking village find in Dublin

Researcher excavations have modified our understanding of the oldest Viking settlement in Dublin with a black pool or Dubh Linn which was considered to be much larger than originally expected.

The excavation alongside Dublin Castle has also revealed the oldest police cells in the city and a grave of punishment.

The excavation is taking place on Ship St near where the remains of one of Dublin’s oldest churches – St Michael le Pole that was founded in the 6th century – are known to be.

The dig is taking place beside Dublin Castle

Archaeologist Alan Hayden from University College Dublin said the work has uncovered the cells from a police station on Chancery Lane built-in 1830, and beside it are walls from a medieval farm.

There are 12th Century quarries that provided the stone to build Dublin Castle and its walls.

The most important discovery yet is that Dubh Linn – the pool on the River Poddle where the Vikings first settled – was much bigger than originally thought.

At present, a garden inside Dublin Castle marks what was thought to make up most of the original Dubh Linn.

However, this excavation has established it was nearly 400 meters wider extending to the present dig site and where St Michael le Pole church stood.

Mr. Hayden says this solves two questions that have puzzled historians – why St Michael’s Church referred to ‘le pole’ or the pool and how reports that the Vikings had up to 200 ships on the Dubh Linn.

Evidence of the settlement in the 12th Century

Niamh Donlon of the One Le Pole Square project says a development planned for the site will consist of a two-story convention center below six floors of office space.

It will incorporate the history of the site in its name.

The remains of the original St Michael le Pol church will be visible below a screen in a new public square and a tile from the church will be used in a new spa area.

A map of the site in the 14th Century

Tom Wilson, the senior civil engineer with builders JJ Rhattigan, said the archaeological dig was already factored into the development and has not caused delays.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hayden says there was one unusual find – a burial of a man found outside the church cemetery with his hand and feet cut off. He said this was a medieval punishment for insulting a lord or king.

Traces of 18th-Century Roman Catholic Church Found in Dublin

Traces of 18th-Century Roman Catholic Church Found in Dublin

On the grounds of Apollo House, the remains of a massive Catholic church built over 300 years ago in the heart of Dublin have been discovered.

Traces of 18th-Century Roman Catholic Church Found in Dublin
Archaeological works ongoing on Monday at the site where Apollo House previously stood, on the junction of Tara Street and Poolbeg Street in Dublin city center.

The Tara Street office block that was demolished last year was the location of a famous homeless activist sit-in during Christmas 2016.

The Ministry of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have granted a license for the planning conditions for the reconstruction of the site. Marlet, the developer, was mandated to hire archaeologists to carry out excavations and document their findings.

Sleeping rough in Dublin in September 2016, at a corner of Apollo House.
Apollo House (at right), in Dublin city center, which has been demolished. The Screen cinema (lower building at left) is also gone amid a major regeneration at the site.
Homelessness activists at Apollo House in January 2017 as a court action was taking place regarding the occupation of the building, for the purpose of providing housing

The traces of the history of the site were now found in a massive archeological dig. The first ruins to be uncovered were the thick stone walls of a national school which was still standing in the shadow of the office block as late as the mid-1980s.

Covert church

But what lay underneath the old schoolhouse proved to be of more interest to archaeologists – the ruins of a considerably older structure which once served as a covert church for Catholics living in the south inner city.

The ruins, dating back to the turn of the 18th century, were unearthed in recent weeks by archaeologists led by Franc Myles of the historical buildings consultancy firm Archaeology and Built Heritage.

Illustration: Dernard de Gomme, The city and suburbs of Dublin, of 1673.
John Rocque, An Exact Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin, of 1756. The current site being developed is marked in red, with the church marked clearly within.

A church was first built on the site in 1709 in Penal times when the practice of Catholicism was banned. In spite of the religious restrictions, the chapel flourished and attracted thousands of worshippers.

“There was probably a building used as a chapel from the foundation of St Andrew’s parish in 1709 and it is depicted on John Rocque’s map [of Dublin] of 1756,” the archaeological report prepared for the developers says.

By 1811, the parish had grown and “it was decided that the chapel would have to be reconstructed”, the report says. The inscribed foundation stone for the new chapel was laid on April 23rd, 1814, by then parish priest Dr. Daniel Murray, who went on to serve as the Archbishop of Dublin from 1823 to 1852.

Work on a new structure duly started, and by 1831 considerable progress had been made. However, progress stalled when there was a split in the ranks of the faithful.

A newly appointed priest of St Andrew’s Parish found “a more desirable site for a new church was available on wasteland at a more central location in the parish on Westland Row”.

Work at the Tara Street church, which features prominently on the earliest ordnance survey maps of Dublin, was halted. The building was subsequently deconsecrated.

Recorded monument

“We have to dig here very carefully because the church is a recorded monument,” Mr. Myles told The Irish Times.

He noted that although it was a large structure and served many thousands of the Catholic faithful for more than a century, there was no graveyard attached to the church, which means the chances of skeletons being uncovered are remote.

Ordnance Survey, Dublin city, sheets 14 and 21, 1847. Current site development marked in red.

The dig is likely to the run-up to Christmas.

Such excavations are either preserved in situ or preserved in the record. Once the Tara Street ruins have been fully explored and the details recorded, they are likely to make way for the new office complex.

Mr. Myles said that when his team started digging on the site, they were expecting to find an original quay wall and timber structures dating back to the 1670s.

But nothing of that nature was uncovered, leading Mr. Myles to suggest that when Apollo House was being constructed in the late 1960s, most of the structures of archaeological importance “were basically demolished”.

He said evidence of the quays is “probably still under Mulligan’s Pub” on Poolbeg Street.