From as far back as the 16th century, historians taught that the Irish are the descendants of the Celts, an Iron Age people who originated in the middle of Europe and invaded Ireland somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C.
That story has inspired innumerable references linking the Irish with Celtic culture. The Nobel-winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats titled a book “Celtic Twilight.” Irish songs are deemed “Celtic” music. Some nationalists embraced the Celtic distinction. And in Boston, arguably the most Irish city in the United States, the owners of the NBA franchise dress their players in green and call them the Celtics.
Yet the bones discovered behind McCuaig’s tell a different story of Irish origins, and it does not include the Celts.
A photo of McCuaig's Bar on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland. Ancient bones were unearthed on the property in 2006. (Photo by Mairead Ni Rodaigh)