The Irish have always been a migrant people. During the period of the Great Migrations, the ethnic majority of Ireland, the Scots, began their migrations from their homeland on the north shore of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe, originating in a region known as
Scythia. Legend has it that leaders of the Milesians traveled as far south as Egypt, encountering the Israelites (c. 1300 BCE). Later, a large contingent of Milesians migrated by boat across the Mediterranean Seato Spain. After a few generations, the Milesians moved north across Gaul and settled in Brittany, establishing a Celtic Breton homeland.1 Evidence of Celtic migration originating in the area of Greece comes from Celtic use of Greek writing during the Roman conquest of Gaul (c. 52 BCE).2 Eventually, Celts crossed the English Channel in their round leather boats, arriving on the Emerald Isle of Ireland (c.1000-500 BCE).3
Having found a home on Europe's Western Fringe, the Irish multiplied. Subsequent generations went out from Ireland to populate Scotland after the withdrawal of the Roman Legions (c. 410 BCE) and are reputed to have explored the
Atlanticand even the Americas, setting the stage for future Nordic exploration.4
1E. A. D'Alton, "
," Catholic Encyclopedia, 1999, <http://newadvent.org/cathen/08098b.htm> ( Ireland 12 April 2001).
2"A History of the Irish Race," Old Ireland,
3 May 2000, <http://www.ireland.org/irl_hist/hist2.htm> ( 12 April 2001).
4Robert McGhee, "Northern Approaches," The National Library of Canada,
5 December 1996, <http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/north/nor-i/thule/thu-019e.htm> ( 12 April 2001).