Pub owner's discovery of bones could change Ireland's history books

Bertie Currie was clearing land on his property 10 years ago when he exposed a large, flat stone with a dark gap underneath.

“I shot the torch in and saw the gentleman, well, his skull and bones,” Bertie Currie, the pub owner, said this week.

The shocking discovery turned out to be the remains of three humans. Police were called but it was not a crime scene at all… in fact what it was is actually one of the most important discoveries in modern times.

Geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queens University Belfast have sequenced the first genomes from ancient Irish humans, reports the Independent.

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From as far back as the 16th century until now, historians thought that the Irish were the descendants of the Celts, an Iron Age people who originated in the middle of Europe and invaded Ireland around 1000 B.C. to 500 B.C.

Since then, Ireland has been synonymous with Celtic culture. There’s songs, music, sports teams, everything you can think of.

But the bones found behind the McCuaig’s Pub tell a different story of Irish origins… without the Celts.

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

DNA research indicates that the three skeletons predate the Celts and their purported arrival by 1,000 years or more. This means the genetic roots of today’s Irish existed in Ireland before the Celts arrived – which is huge news.

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The senior author of the DNA research paper, Dan Bradley of Trinity College Dublin said “The genomes of the contemporary people in Ireland are older — much older — than we previously thought”.

But if we want to know where the Irish truly came from, we might never know, says J.P. Mallory, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Queen’s University Belfast.

“The public will always want a place on the map and for someone to point and say, ‘This where the Irish are from,’

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“But there’s going to be no way to do that. These groups were frequently traveling east-west across Europe, from one place to another. Everyone is a mix”.


Tell us, has this news made you want to look further into Irish history?