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Author Topic: The Origins of the Irish: New Book by PIE Expert James Mallory  (Read 9014 times)
eochaidh
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« Reply #100 on: February 15, 2013, 05:20:15 PM »

Assigning modern political boundaries onto the situation several thousand years ago is no doubt gonna give certain people a coronary *rolls eyes*

Okay, then, Mallory suggest that the Irish come from the island to the east of them. Still, an amazingly bold statement! I thought they might have come from the Continent, but no, they come from the island next to them. No one knows where the people on the island east of Ireland came from.

I think it's quite likely that in prehistory some people may have traveled straight to what we now call Ireland from what we now call Brittany, or further afield, and not passed through what we now call Britain.

It's a heck of a long boat journey though!



Well, it would be a long journey for Europeans, but Polynesians could have done it easily.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 05:21:48 PM by eochaidh » Logged

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« Reply #101 on: February 15, 2013, 08:15:14 PM »

Just to assure myself that my impression was correct, I have skimmed through this entire thread again.  Only a handful of people have actually read the Mallory book, before posting; and I think only two of that handful (Heber and JeanM) have even mentioned that it is written "with humor."

I've rarely read an academic study that made me laugh as often.  Mallory's treatment is far from reverent, and the funny bits sneak up on one.  My wife keeps asking me what's funny, so I have had to read more of it aloud than is normally the case with such works.

I've just arrived at Chapter Eight (of ten), in which he's going to talk about the DNA.  So I still don't have anything to say about that.  But it's a very enjoyable and informative read.

its very humorous.  I hate people who take the whole origins and nationality thing so seriously and he kind of pokes fun a little at the sensativities of overly sensative people. Having lived in Northern Ireland for over 40 years Mallory knows all about this.  However, he just tells it how it is really and if that upsets people then tough.  His conclusion that Irelands overwhelmingly strongest contacts were with Britain may upset some people but its the reality.  One thing I note though is he is indicating a two-way flow of contact and migration.  The idea of an Irish Sea Provence has been mooted before.  He kind of brings out how this was a huge aspect throught prehistory albeit this had a couple of periods of breaking down in the Later Mesolithic and again in the period 600-300BC.  Its worth noting that those two periods seem to represent isolation of Ireland from any major influences from anywhere rather than shifting to another contact pattern. 

The latter period IMO is probably the one where Irish and British Celtic languages diverged from insular Celtic.  Before that, archaeology would suggest they were near identical and that is probably in line with what many linguists think.  He doesnt completely ignore continental aspects but he seems to feel that direct continental contact was much more rare and largely confined to NW France.  I suspect direct contact happened in the beaker period as NW France seems closer to Irish beaker traits than British ones.  However, this seems a relatively rare divergence.     
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eochaidh
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« Reply #102 on: February 15, 2013, 08:33:50 PM »

Just to assure myself that my impression was correct, I have skimmed through this entire thread again.  Only a handful of people have actually read the Mallory book, before posting; and I think only two of that handful (Heber and JeanM) have even mentioned that it is written "with humor."

I've rarely read an academic study that made me laugh as often.  Mallory's treatment is far from reverent, and the funny bits sneak up on one.  My wife keeps asking me what's funny, so I have had to read more of it aloud than is normally the case with such works.

I've just arrived at Chapter Eight (of ten), in which he's going to talk about the DNA.  So I still don't have anything to say about that.  But it's a very enjoyable and informative read.

its very humorous.  I hate people who take the whole origins and nationality thing so seriously and he kind of pokes fun a little at the sensativities of overly sensative people. Having lived in Northern Ireland for over 40 years Mallory knows all about this.  However, he just tells it how it is really and if that upsets people then tough.  His conclusion that Irelands overwhelmingly strongest contacts were with Britain may upset some people but its the reality.  One thing I note though is he is indicating a two-way flow of contact and migration.  The idea of an Irish Sea Provence has been mooted before.  He kind of brings out how this was a huge aspect throught prehistory albeit this had a couple of periods of breaking down in the Later Mesolithic and again in the period 600-300BC.  Its worth noting that those two periods seem to represent isolation of Ireland from any major influences from anywhere rather than shifting to another contact pattern. 

The latter period IMO is probably the one where Irish and British Celtic languages diverged from insular Celtic.  Before that, archaeology would suggest they were near identical and that is probably in line with what many linguists think.  He doesnt completely ignore continental aspects but he seems to feel that direct continental contact was much more rare and largely confined to NW France.  I suspect direct contact happened in the beaker period as NW France seems closer to Irish beaker traits than British ones.  However, this seems a relatively rare divergence.     

So your defense of Mallory's not giving origins of the Irish beyond the neighboring island is that people are sensitive about nationality?

My complaint is that Mallory's saying that the origins of the Irish is the neighboring island to the east is very non-specific.

As I have said, it is like paying a gentic genealogist and having him tell you that you are descended from your parents.

Do you have another defense for Mallory other that the nationality strawman?
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gtc
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« Reply #103 on: February 16, 2013, 08:28:57 AM »

Do you have another defense for Mallory other that the nationality strawman?

Surely the only person who can properly "defend" Mallory's theories is Mallory himself.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 08:31:49 AM by gtc » Logged

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razyn
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« Reply #104 on: February 16, 2013, 09:30:21 AM »

Do you have another defense for Mallory other that the nationality strawman?

Surely the only person who can properly "defend" Mallory's theories is Mallory himself.

And surely the only population sufficiently informed to criticize such theories should consist of those who actually have read the book?

Many other, deeper, and non-British cultural, genetic and linguistic sources are treated in its pages.  Some of them are treated a bit unkindly, but they are treated.  Older works and theories are cited and discussed, notably including essentially silly ones like the Book of Invasions.  Any accusation of his being "non-specific" is just underinformed.

Quote
Although the historical evidence is quite meagre, the Romans did take some interest in Ireland that went beyond the niche tourist market for those who longed to see cows explode in a serpent-free environment.
  Mallory (2013), 192.

That summation is at the end of an otherwise perfectly serious paragraph, with six footnotes.  The pages that went before it were specific, and those that come after are specific.  And that's just one paragraph in the sixth chapter, about the Iron Age. 

Really, it's well worth reading.  Mallory is intelligent, well informed, and has been dealing with stupid questions (in the classroom) for forty-odd years.  His book could easily deal with yours, should you bother to read it.
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« Reply #105 on: February 16, 2013, 05:04:31 PM »

And surely the only population sufficiently informed to criticize such theories should consist of those who actually have read the book?

Naturally.
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« Reply #106 on: February 16, 2013, 10:26:33 PM »

Mallory was interviewed about his book on the RTE 1 Radio program "Today with Pat Kenny". You can listen online here:

http://tinyurl.com/bueon9c

Give it a few seconds to start up and then fast forward to 1:04:00 and it runs for 19 minutes.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 10:28:30 PM by gtc » Logged

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« Reply #107 on: February 17, 2013, 08:20:42 PM »

Assigning modern political boundaries onto the situation several thousand years ago is no doubt gonna give certain people a coronary *rolls eyes*

Okay, then, Mallory suggest that the Irish come from the island to the east of them. Still, an amazingly bold statement! I thought they might have come from the Continent, but no, they come from the island next to them. No one knows where the people on the island east of Ireland came from.

I think it's quite likely that in prehistory some people may have traveled straight to what we now call Ireland from what we now call Brittany, or further afield, and not passed through what we now call Britain.

It's a heck of a long boat journey though!



Well, it would be a long journey for Europeans, but Polynesians could have done it easily.

I can imagine the Sun headlines xD:

"IRISH DESCEND FROM POLYNESIAN BOATMEN"
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« Reply #108 on: February 18, 2013, 09:47:33 AM »

I haven't read the Mallory Book. Probably won't, so I read other's interpretations with interest.

If people arrived in Ireland in the mesolithic from Islands to the east..perhaps many such people came to the isles by way of Doggerland, as well as other places like France or Iberia. I would look at what type of water vessels mesolithic people used, and how far out to sea they might be willing to travel in one. Island hopping would be my guess, rather than open sea travel in a skin or log boat.
http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/pre_norman_history/mesolithic_age.html
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rms2
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« Reply #109 on: February 18, 2013, 11:25:59 AM »

I might get a copy eventually, but it doesn't seem as urgent to me as it did when I first heard about the book.

I am looking forward to the coming years, if I'm around long enough, and the advent of more and more numerous and reliable ancient y-dna test results. Now that will be interesting.
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Heber
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« Reply #110 on: February 21, 2013, 04:17:22 PM »

Just to assure myself that my impression was correct, I have skimmed through this entire thread again.  Only a handful of people have actually read the Mallory book, before posting; and I think only two of that handful (Heber and JeanM) have even mentioned that it is written "with humor."

I've rarely read an academic study that made me laugh as often.  Mallory's treatment is far from reverent, and the funny bits sneak up on one.  My wife keeps asking me what's funny, so I have had to read more of it aloud than is normally the case with such works.

I've just arrived at Chapter Eight (of ten), in which he's going to talk about the DNA.  So I still don't have anything to say about that.  But it's a very enjoyable and informative read.

Razyn,

I agree, it is the first time I was laughing out loud reading a book of this nature. It is a pity that the DNA treatment, by the nature of the beast, is already outdated. I would hope that NGS large scale sequencing such as that provided Tyler Smith would give us better definition. Unfortunately my initial Geno 2.0 results do not give a warm and fuzzy feeling that this will happen anytime soon. We can produce the raw data, but the analysis of context is still sadly lacking.
The good news is that the hobbyists are still ahead by a good measure.
The bad news is that the hobbyists are still ahead by a good measure.:).
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Heber


 
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Heber
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« Reply #111 on: March 04, 2013, 03:35:48 AM »

Here is a good review from the Irish Times.
I just finished Of Irish Origins by Professor Catherine Nash. Well worth a read.

The Origins of the Irish
JOHN GRENHAM

In his introduction to the work of the same name that he has just published (Thames and Hudson, €25.15), J.P. Mallory writes “an entire book devoted to The Origins of the Irish is just asking for trouble”. And then dives right in.

The book provides a comprehensive overview of all the current evidence for the origins of the people(s) who inhabited Ireland in the 5th century A.D., around the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Mallory covers cosmology, physics, geology, plate tectonics, climate change, archaeology, Irish origin stories, medical genetics, DNA studies, and the history of the Irish language.

Such breadth is only possible because of his genius for synthesis and summary, lightened with a touch of sharp wit. One example: in looking at the constituent elements of a human body, he works out that it would take the uranium contained in 80 million bodies to produce an atom bomb. And then points out that 70 million people claim Irish descent. The implication is that UN weapons inspectors should be on the lookout, in case we reach critical mass.

His own academic expertise is in archaeology and Indo-European linguistics (he is Emeritus Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at QUB) and these are the parts in which the evidence is most closely argued. But every single section is scrupulous about evidence and logic.

Nonetheless, the book remains joyously non-academic, while still managing to retain some of the best elements of a textbook. Each of the 10 chapters ends with a bullet-point summary of the conclusions reached or uncertainties still remaining. Wickedly, and tellingly, the end of the chapter on genetic evidence provides two mutually contradictory sets of conclusions.

With unmatched clarity and humour, the book challenges every single received notion of ‘Irishness’. It is a masterpiece and I’ll be going back to it again and again.
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