JLP's response to our pages about Galicia and the Celts
Dear Galicia Guide,
I note the scepticism displayed on the site in regard to Galician claims to Celticity. If I could play "devils advocate" to your "devil's advocate," I would note the following.
I am aware that there is a running discussion as to whether Galicia (as well as neighboring Asturias) can be called "Celtic." I would suggest that the question can only be answered if one also asks, "What does one mean by 'Celtic?'".
There was an article recently published in the American Journal of Human Genetics which details a study by geneticists from Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland; the University of Leeds in the UK; and the University of Cambridge in the UK. (I linked to the article below.) The research conducted shows two noteworthy things:
(1) that the genetic background of the regions/peoples commonly in modern times described as "Celtic" (i.e. Scots, Irish, Welsh, etc.) are not closely related to the the ancient people known as "Celts" who one dominated large parts of Europe, and who are the source of much of the "Celtic" artifacts mentioned in your website. In fact, it appears that while there are obviously some genetics passed down from those ancient Celts to much of the population in Europe, it does not appears to be any more prevalent among modern day "Celts" than among any other Eurpoean populations. The cultural traits that are considered Celtic, such as language, which now appears in the cultures of modern people considered to be "Celts" appears to have gotten there by means of cultural transfer (through, perhaps, trade or other communications).
(2) The other thing the research finds is that there is, indeed a genetic link between the people of Galicia and those of the other so-called "Celtic" lands (i.e. Scotland, Ireland, Wales, etc.).
Therefore, if Galicians cant be "Celts," because theyre not related to the original European "Celts," then neither can Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, etc. Further, whatever one would want to call Scots, Irish, Welsh, etc.... "Celts" or "Modern Celts" or whatever... theyre related to Galicians !!!! There does indeed appear to have been contact by sea between all of these cultures, and genetic kinship.
Heres a brief article detailing the scholarly article:
Heres the original scholarly article from the American Journal of Human Genetics:
I would say that perhaps this, in part, accounts for the similarity in cultures (music, folklore, etc.), as well as for the existence of a story in Irish mythology, in the Irish work called Leabhar Gabhala, which says that the people of Ireland originated from an invasion by people from northwestern Spain. See the link below:
This mythology may be just made up, but it may also have a fragment of historical truth which has been glorified in mytholigical storytelling.
Lastly, it is true that the indigenous language of Galicia ("Gallego") as well as that of neighboring Asturias is of Latin origin, and not a Celtic language. This is one of the reasons that both regions are excluded from the Celtic League, the international organization that represents Celtic interests. That organization has held to a definition of Celticity that is strictly language based, although it is my understanding that such definition is the subject of debate. Nevertheless, even the Celtic league appears to recognize that both Galicia and Asturias can be considered Celtic under other criteria. The website of the League's International Branch states that the League "recognises that in Galicia and the Asturies, not only do vestiges of Celtic influence remain, but that some people (still) consider themselves Celts." See here: http://www.celtic-league.org/id19.htm" The League's American branch website states that both Galicia and Asturias "can claim a Celtic cultural or historic heritage." See here: http://www.celticleague.org/celtic_nations.html. (I think that the last two links are now dead, hence I have left them in place, but removed the html).
Thank you for your consideration,