Sunday, March 18, 2007

Irish Identity=genetics? NOT!

A tiny but riveting skirmish has been playing itself out this month on the pages of the New York Times about genetic similarites between the English on the one hand, and the Irish, Scots, and Welsh on the other. Geneticists Stephen Oppenheimer and Bryan Sykes at the University of Oxford, argue that the people of the British Isles are more closely related than the history books had suggested. According to these scientists, "the core populations of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are of very much the same stock, with only minor add-ons at the edge from Viking and other invasions." Trouble is, no one of Irish, Scots, or Welsh extraction responding to the research fails to note the source: an English university! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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