Definition of a gentleman: someone who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn't. - Unknown

Celtic Roots

Celtic Lands

Celtic people once lived throughout most of Europe. By around AD 500, however, they had been pushed mainly into six regions. Those six Celtic nations, shown on the map to the right, are Scotland (blue), Ireland (green), Wales (red), the Isle of Man (gold), the Cornwall region of England (yellow), and the Brittany region of France (black).

Many people from these Celtic nations immigrated to North America, starting with Scots and Scots-Irish (Northern Ireland Protestants who originally came from Scotland) in the 1700s. Many of these became influential in the American Revolution and the early years of the US republic, including Patrick Henry, Andrew Jackson, and James Monroe.

The number of Celtic immigrants ballooned in the mid-1800s during and after the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1852. Today, there are more people of Celtic descent in North America than in all the European Celtic countries put together!

An estimated 36 million Americans — more than 12% of the total population - reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey. Scottish and Scotch-Irish ancestry represent 3.1% of the U.S. population. Around 1.75 million Americans report themselves to have Welsh ancestry. Since these are self-reported numbers and few people really know their ancestry, it is likely these numbers are low. Many people have at least some Irish or Scottish roots. For instance, of the 44 US Presidents, 29 have had some Irish ancestry.

Celtic Facts

  • The word Celt can be pronounced with either a hard or soft C.
  • What is the difference between Celtic and Gaelic? Gaels are a subset of Celtic people. Gaelic can be used to describe Celts from Ireland, the Isle of Mann, and the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides islands.
  • The Iceni were a Celtic tribe in eastern Britain. The Romans made the Iceni a subject population. Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, led a revolt in AD 60-61. The Boudiccan forces burned and destroyed London, the capital of Roman Britain.
  • If King Arthur existed (and he probably did), he was most likely a Celtic chieftain. He may have fought against the encroaching Anglo-Saxons around AD 500.
  • When Europe was invaded by barbarians and plunged into the dark ages, Irish monks preserved and copied the ancient writings of Greece and Rome. They later sent missionaries to convert the barbarians to Christianity. That is why it can be said that the Irish saved civilization.
  • St. Patrick was a British Celt born around AD 415. As a teenager he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. In his captivity he grew closer to God and was given a vision of how to escape. When he returned to Britain, he received another vision, this one urging him to return to the land of his captivity as a missionary. It is said that Patrick explained the Trinity to the Irish using a shamrock, which has three lobes.
  • Traditionally kilts are made from nine yards of tartan wool. So a man wanting a good kilt would be sure to ask for, “the whole nine yards.”
  • The tri-spiral pattern shown in the firepit screen below is an ancient Celtic and pre-Celtic symbol found on a number of Irish Megalitic and Neolitic sites. It's ancient meaning is unknown.

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