by Thalia Lightbringer
March 28, 2017

from MessageToEagle Website

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Could the Early Irish Celts

have Ties to Ancient Greece?


Where did the Tuatha de Danann come from?

Legends of these people resemble those of ancient Greek gods, goddesses and archaic heroes:

  • Could there be a connection?

  • Do the Irish owe more to the Greeks than they know?

It sounds like a fairy story, and some of the evidence does come from mythical tales, but remember that Troy was found because Heinrich Schliemann took Homer's tale of the to have some basis in fact.

It is probably true that these tales were embellished to make them more magical and exciting, but facts are still embedded within the story. Before writing was common, people used poetry to help them remember the facts of a tale.


Homer describes armor perfectly that was no longer used in his day, later confirmed by archaeological finds like the boar's tooth helmet.

The ancient Irish used the same practice to remember their history, and their tales similarly describe ancient battles in great detail. The Druids were renowned for their amazing abilities to remember long lists of laws among other things.

The ancient Greeks were intrepid explorers and skilled sailors. They colonized places all around the Mediterranean and had a wide trade network.


Plato compared them to "frogs around a pond" in his Works because of their expansive colonization of the area.


Is it possible that they also colonized ancient Ireland?




The Tuatha de Danann


The Tuatha De Danann

as depicted in "Riders of the Sidhe"

by John Duncan, Public Domain

Old Irish tales say that Ireland was inhabited by the "Tuatha de Danann" (Children or people of Danu) over 4,000 years ago.


These people were said to have godlike powers and The Book of Invasions claims they came in "flying ships", while later versions of this tale changes this to "sailing ships".


They are described as,

  • tall people with fair or red hair

  • pale skin

  • blue or green eyes

The Irish book 'Leadhar Gadhal' states there were also 24 pairs of colonists who came to Ireland in 1240 BC led by a Greek prince named Bartoli.

The "Children of Mil" (people from Spain) invaded and eventually took over, sending the Tuatha to the mounds, which are linked with the fairy realm.

This probably means that the invaders killed them, since these are actually burial mounds.


Some could have survived, however, and it is possible that some of the redheaded Irish are descended from these "Dananns". Though very few modern Greeks have fair hair, the ancient Greeks must have been very different, especially in Mycenean times.

If you look at the story of the Trojan War as told by Homer, you find that Achilles and Menelaus were said to be redheads, and Helen of Troy (formerly of Sparta) was described as having a "ginger" tint to her hair.


Some Greek gods were also said to have red hair. DNA evidence shows that a great portion of the population of Ireland has genetic ties to the Spanish, showing that the "Children of Mil" story has truth behind it.


The rest are a mixed bag, with many genetic similarities to the British.



Trireme from a Roman mosaic in Tunisia,

image taken by Wikimedia user:

Mathiasrex Maciej Szczepańczyk

Who were these early inhabitants? Is there evidence that they could be linked with the ancient Greeks?


Indeed, Greece must have had some influence on the early Irish culture, as many Irish Gaelic words and early place names have been shown by etymologists to have origins in the Greek language.

The word "Danaan" was also sometimes used to refer to Argives or the Greeks in general (as in Homer's Iliad).


This is because many ancient Greeks claimed descent from the line of Danae of Argos, who bore the hero Perseus, famous for killing the Gorgon Medusa.




The Myth of Danae


Image credit:

Thalia Lightbringer

Danae was the daughter of King Akrisios (Acrisius) and Queen Eurydike (Eurydice) of Argos.


The King wanted a son, but an oracle told him that not only would he never have a son, but that his daughter's son would kill him. Akrisios then locked Danae away in a chamber of bronze to keep her from ever being seen by men. In this way, he thought to thwart prophecy.

However, there was a small slit for light in the roof, and the Olympian Zeus saw her, fell in love, and came to her as a shower of gold through this slit. From this union, Danae bore Perseos (Perseus).


King Akrisios, fearful of the prophecy, put Danae and her son in a chest and set it adrift at sea, hoping that Poseidon, god of the sea, would take care of the problem for him.


Instead, Danae was rescued by a fisherman named Diktys (Dictys), the brother of King Polydektes (Polydectes) of the island of Seriphos. Polydektes later fell in love with Danae and Perseos killed Medusa in order to rescue his mother from this lustful King.

There are also some intriguing stories of connections with ancient Egypt and Italy.


Greek tales indicate that Danae was descended from an Argive maiden named Io who was loved by Zeus, but forced to travel to Egypt as a cow, because of the jealousy of Zeus' wife Hera.


From Io was descended Danaus, who supposedly returned from Egypt to Argos with fifty daughters who were called the Danaides.

The Italian traditions have another story to tell. They claim that Danae had two sons by Phineus, Argus and Argeus, and took up residence in the place where the city of Rome was later built. Another story says she ended up on the coast of Italy, married King Pilumnus, and founded the city of Ardea.


It seems a lot of Mediterranean people wanted to trace their lineage back to the princess Danae!

The hero Herakles (Hercules) was among those who claimed to be descended from Danae, said to be her great-great-grandson. Could it be that some of those who claimed descent from Danae later traveled to Ireland and became known as the "Tuatha de Danann"?




Archaeological and Historical Evidence

The word "Celt" comes from the Greek word "Keltoi" (Greeks did not use the letter C, that came from the Romans in later translations).

The first mention of Ireland we know of is in Greek texts. They called it "Hyperborea".


The Romans called it "Hibernia". Greece did not have a central government, but a loosely-joined collection of "city states". The Irish organization was similar, with every province having its own ideas of government.

The ancient Greeks, especially the Mycenean civilization, had the custom of battles sometimes being decided by champions. Irish tales, such as that of Cuchulain, show the same custom. Greek pottery has been found in archaeological digs at Tintagel in Cornwall, possible evidence of Greek trading with the British Isles for tin.

It can be surmised from the early Greek cartographers that the ancient Greeks had sailed to this area at some time in the past, but at what date is uncertain.


It is possible that early Greeks also colonized the area, as they were always looking to expand their colonies.




Greek Expansion and Legacy

Greece is a small country with mostly rocky soil.


There is not much good land for farming and settlement. It often became necessary to send out colonists looking for greener pastures, as the population growth became too much for the local resources.


The "Emerald Isle" would have been a tempting jewel indeed!

The western world owes much to the early Greeks in terms of ideas and knowledge (thank goodness they beat the Persians or it might be a very different story!).


They seeded the ancient world with their culture, art, ideas, and their genetics as well, while looking for trade opportunities and good places to settle. The Romans adopted many of the Greek ideas and spread the culture further.

From the evidence given here, we can surmise that there is a good possibility that the "Tuatha de Danann" were descendants of ancient Greeks, possibly even from the royal line of Argos through the Argive princess Danae and her heroic son Perseus.


For such a small country, they certainly left an impressive and widespread legacy...!