Hello Gill and all following and contributing to this thread--
First it was a question of ethnicity, and I asked the question of
my father when I was still quite small, perhaps age 10 or so, what
people did we come from. Those questions became intensified with
the television series "Roots" back in the 1970s in which the
ancestral lineage of an African American was traced back in time
to how their family came to the US drawing from the oral history
of the family regarding preserved African words. My father had
replied we were Irish, but he gave hardly any specifics other than
that his grandmother had been Irish.
When I entered college in 1976 I began to do research and this was
when I first began to understand that Irish culture at one time
had been a Gaelic culture, and was different from our own. I
purchased my first Irish language grammars at this time, and the
large Focloir Gaeilge, which I still find difficult to read.
It was when the May 1977 National Geographic appeared in which the
feature article was devoted to the entirety of Celtic culture and
the extent to which European Archaeology could state certain
things about that culture. It was at this point that I understood
that the Irish were part of a larger people, a Celtic people, and
that their own and larger culture was separate from others because
of certain things, like language, religion to some extent in the
ancient times, and the music and dance across regional difference
from one part of the Celtic realm to the other.
This was in the days before genetics, and most of the conclusions
were still based on the 19th century invasions theory made popular
during the 19th century, then later developed by Maria Gimbutas in
which she replaced Baltic elites where "German" Aryans had been.
It gave me a point of identity, that I had come from something
larger and more ancient than southern US culture. I began studying
what Irish culture and the larger Celtic culture meant.
Recently I learned that genetic tests were available and thus
paidfor a service to help de-mystify my questions about my
paternal lineage by which the name Smith had come down to me. It
confirms that more than just a Celtic contribution from the
paternal great grandmother, my Y-chromosome comes from a Celtic
population as the Y-chromosome is passed father to son through
generations largely unchanged, and the degree to which it changes
is a science understood by geneticists. I then began to find out
that I was not genetically related to other Smiths either in the
US or Europe in existing DNA databases, and learned that I had
more genetic cousins who were named McMahon, O'Rourke, McTierney,
et al. I also checked the MacGowans of Ireland, and I am not
related to any of them either. I also determined I have some kind
of lineage in common with Colla Uais of Dalriada and Ireland, and
through him to Conn of the Hundred Battles. It's possible, perhaps
So it is a way of knowing who I am, perhaps why I have the kind of
temper I have, which will be the death of me. There is wealth in
knowledge, and in this kind of self-knowledge particularly. Many
of the descendants of the Irish, Scots, Welsh and others in the
southern US have absolutely no idea from whence their ancestors
came. Some ask the questions I asked; most do not. My father
certainly did not. For instance I recently informed the husband of
my son's Cub Scout pack that "Kelly" is the "recent" anglicized
spelling from the old way. This individual was absolutely
surprised there had ever been an old way (e.g., "Ceallaigh").
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gil Das" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 11:35 AM
Subject: Questions of identity
As a follow on from my previous message,
(for those living away from their suspected land of origin), at
did you realise / suspect / hope (which one?) you were of 'Celtic'
did your parents / grandparents have the same feelings - i.e. is
it part of
your family traditions that this is your heritage (I'm really
at what point / generation this ancestry became important /
Can anybody sum-up what 'being Celtic' means to them; and what
attributes define this identity?
These are questions that may inform my research, so I'd be
Thanks very much in advance,
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