English and Irish: one people separated by 7-15 millenia?

It’s hard to know what goes to make up the genetic make up of a nation, but it seems increasingly clear that the supposed difference between the English and Irish is not as deep as we may have been led to believe. Nicholas Wade in the International Herald Tribune.

…about three-quarters of the ancestors of today’s British and Irish populations arrived 15,000 to 7,500 years ago, when rising sea levels split Britain and Ireland from Continental Europe and from each other, Oppenheimer calculates in a new book, “The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story.”

Ireland received the fewest of the subsequent invaders; their DNA makes up about 12 percent of the Irish gene pool, Oppenheimer estimates. DNA from invaders accounts for 20 percent of the gene pool in Wales, 30 percent in Scotland, and about a third in eastern and southern England.

But no single group of invaders is responsible for more than 5 percent of the current gene pool, Oppenheimer says on the basis of genetic data.


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