Originally published November 2002.
Where Did the Celts Come From?
Long, long ago beyond the misty space
Of twice a thousand years,
In Erin old there dwelt a mighty race,
Taller than Roman spears;
Like oaks and towers they had a giant grace, Were fleet as deers
With winds and waves they made their ‘biding place,
These western shepherd seers.
Their ocean-god was Manannan Mac Lir,
Whose angry lips,
In their white foam, full often would inter
Whole fleets of ships;
Crom was their day-god, and their thunderer,
Made morning and eclipse;
Bride was their queen of song, and unto her
They prayed with fire-torched lips.
Oh, inspired giant! shall we e’er behold,
In our own time,
One fit to speak your spirit on the wold,
Or seize yoru rhyme?
One pupil of the past, as mighty souled
As in the prime,
Were the fond, fair, and beautiful and bold-
They, of your song sublime!
The Celts, D’Arcy McGee, 17th Century Irish Poet.
The Irish assert that the first inhabitants of Ireland were direct descendants of Noah, through his granddaughter Cesair. There is a very interesting account of the original/ancient settlers here: http://www.odyssy.net/users/erica/wicca/irish.htm. There are stories of the Milesians being direct descendants of Noah as well.
Many scholars have dismissed this as a later addition of Christianity, the explanation being that the Christians were just trying to find a “place” for the “wild” Celts. I mean, they had to come from somewhere. And if, in the past, everyone in the world was wiped out by a universal flood, save one lone man and his family (Noah and the Ark) then the people who are on the earth now MUST be descended from Noah himself.
The reason Scholars have written off this myth as an invention is that there is no scientific evidence for a universal flood, and therefore, no Noah. Thomas Cahill, in his book “How the Irish Saved Civilization”, states “In the Irish foundation myth, the sons of Mil, survivors of the Great Flood through their descendant from Noah, reach Ireland from Spain and wrest it from a tribe called Tuatha De Danaan, the People of the Goddess Danu. The connection to Noah can only be the result of later monkish tinkering with the original material-somehow, the Irish had to be connected to things Biblical.”
With the wonderful technologies available to us today, scientists have determined that there really was no Great Flood that covered the whole earth. However, interestingly enough they have been able to determine that there was a flood of massive proportions around the Black Sea. I would highly suggest reading Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History by Walter Pitmen & William F. Ryan.
The main idea is that there was a (relatively) highly developed society of people living around the banks of a lake chain (lakes connected by tributaries or rivers). Then, as the glaciers melted, the highest lake (land wise) filled to the point of overflowing. At one point the land dam protecting everything from the rising waters, burst and sent in a great flood filling the area to roughly the point it is at today-the Black Sea. These small lakes were now deep at the bottom of a great new sea.
This flood happened in such a way that the people living around the lakes would have had some initial indication that something was happening. At first there would have been a trickle of overflow, enough that the water would have shrunk the coastline visibly in the space of a few months. This would have given the “smart ones” time to form a plan. Time to figure out how to deal with what was going on. And also time to make appeals to the Gods for supplication. When the land dam burst the flood would have been fast enough to engulf any of the slow or weak who were left behind.
The ones that survived would no doubt have considered themselves blessed by the Gods. These people were now forced to find another place to live. They migrated. Some stopped in Mesopotamia, becoming the amazingly advanced civilization of Sumeria. Some migrated to Egypt and established great cities and kingdoms. And some traveled and ended up in Europe and finally Ireland and Scotland-the Celts.
Some of the evidence cited as proof of this migration:
- Core samples of the bottom of the Black Sea.
- Linguistic patterns, tracing their origins.
- The sudden “appearance” of advanced peoples in history. There seems to be no origin for these peoples, but they all appear at roughly the same time, just after the Black Sea flood.
Interestingly enough, mythology itself can lend some credence to this story. For example, the Babylonian story of Gilgamesh says that Gilgamesh went to se Utnapishtim, the wisest and oldest man on earth. Utnapishtim was the favorite of the God Enlil and Enlil saved Utnapishtim from the Great Flood. Gilgamesh has come looking for the Tree of Life so that he can gain immortality, but Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he cannot get to the tree because it is under the water of the Black Sea. It is clear here that the dry land upon which the tree grew was now under the very water scientists claim is the result of the flood.
There is also the Celtic myth that states that Cesair was refused a spot in the Ark by Noah so she and her company were instructed by their god to set sail, which they did, and eventually landed in Ireland. This, if it is to be believed, would confirm several things: that other people survived the flood, that the flood would have to have been universal as in the Biblical account (which is not scientific) or it would have to have occurred created a waterway that was connected to Ireland.
Or the Aymara flood myth, from Bolivia. Kun, the snow god, grew angry at the humans and punished them by covering all of creation with snow and ice. (Sounds like glaciers to me.) After this, when all had perished, the gods of fertility sent their sons, the Eagle Men, to create new people, who were called the Paka-Jakes, who still live near Lake Titicaca.
There is certainly enough evidence to suggest, much more than I can cover here, that a complete dismissal of the Irish connection to Noah would be short sighted, at best.
For more information about the Tuatha De click here:
For more information about the Noah myths click here:
How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill
Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History by Walter Pitmen & William F. Ryan