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Re: Black Irish

Posted by David Roderick on September 14, 2001

In Reply to: Re: Black Irish posted by Amy McGee on January 13, 19100

: : : : What does it mean to call someone a "Black Irishman".

: : According to rumors and legends,Black Irish are the descendants of a few surviving ill-fated Spanish sailors who sailed with the Felícima Armada from Spain to invade England but were ultimately shipwrecked on the northern and western coasts of Ireland in the autumn of 1588. A very small number of the more than seven hundred Spanish men who made it alive to the Irish coast survived, and a few of those who did allegedly became intimate with enough Irish women so as to engender a new inter-racial (Hibernian-Iberian) strain of progeny whose "dark hair and eyes and soft brown Southern skin testifies to its remote Spanish ancestry."
: :
: : Follow on the link below for a very, very detailed essay, with footnotes, on the Black Irish!

I have heard of the "Black Irish" several times before and the story behind it that it was due to Spanish lineage from Armada sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland. I have always struggled with the term "Black" when used in reference to the Spanish. This makes an assumption that the Spanish are typically of the darker Mediterranean stock only. Anyone who knows the ancestry of the Spanish people (and also the Portuguese), knows that the Spanish are an all-European multi-ethnic people. They are the product of several peoples who migrated, colonized and conquered the Iberian peninsula over the centuries. These peoples have included Phoenician, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Basque, Celts, Germanic (Vandals, Visigoths, Suevians, Cimbrians) & Moors. The country of Spain was once several kingdoms each with its own predominate ancestry. For this reason, the 2 Northwestern regions of Spain (Galicia and Asturias) are overwhelmingly Celtic and Germanic in ancestry. This is reflected in the physical appearance of the people, the regional food and even the music-------bagpipes, not guitars, are the popular instrument in these 2 regions!

I think that people nowadays are to apt to classify people by nationalities and do not think to the time before there was a Spain, an Ireland, an Italy, etc. My point is that the people of Spain and Portugal are made up of peoples that came from other parts of Europe (Nordic and Mediterranean) and thus, there is no typical "Spanish appearance". A Spaniard can be tall or short, fair or olive skinned, fair or dark haired, fair or dark eyed, etc.

One last thing is the remark saying that the Spanish-Irish mixture engendered a new "racial" strain. This is an absurdly ignorant remark. Both the Spanish and the Irish are of the Caucasian race. People need research these things for themselves and not take someones writing as fact just because someone put an article out there for all to see.

thank you.