The Celtic Nations

Posted by Debb Greer on

What are the Celtic Nations? How many are there?  There is a lot of controversy about this question and the answer lies beyond Ireland, Scotland & Wales.  It can differ depending on perspective.  

The Celts were fierce warriors,  skilled metal workers and developed wheeled transport techniques that were "borrowed" by the Romans for Chariot making.

When the Celts were first recorded about 600 BC, they were already widespread across Iberia, Gaul, and Central Europe.  In Ireland, the "Lebor Gabála" or  Book of Invasions ( "The Book of the Taking of Ireland") gives a legendary account of the arrival of incoming peoples. It tells of Ireland being settled (or 'taken') six times by six groups of people: the people of Cessair, the people of Partholón, the people of Nemed, the Fir Bolg, the Tuatha Dé Danann, and the Milesians. The first four groups are wiped out or forced to abandon the island, the fifth group represent Ireland's pagan gods, while the final group represent the Irish people (the Gaels).

The term Celtic generally refers to a family of languages "of the Celts"  or in the "Style of the Celts"  and are respective cultures or regions where four Celtic languages are still spoken to some extent as mother tongues.  These SIX Celtic Nations  include Alba, Éire, Cymru, Mannin, Breizh and Kernow, or Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Brittany and Cornwall respectively.  The Celtic languages of these nations are: an Gháidhlig (Scots Gaelic), Gaeilge (Irish), Cymraeg (Wales), Gaelg (Manx), Brezhoneg (Breton) agus Kernewek (Cornish). The Celtic languages probably developed in southern Germany and Switzerland in the Bronze Age 

However,  for centuries the Celts spread from beyond Central & Northern Europe, with many countries today claiming some Celtic influence. 

Galicia, Spain (the unknown 7th Celtic nation)  makes claim that it's area is heavily influenced by Celtic Culture,  particularly in the ancient region of Gallaecia  (the modern region of Galicia and Braga, Viana do Castelo, Douro, Porto, and Bragança in Portugal) and the Asturian region (Asturias, León, Zamora in Spain).

Patagonia.  A Welsh speaking outpost of Patagonia, on the southern tip of Argentina lays claim as the 8th Celtic Nation.  They speak the ‘language of heaven’  the settlement dates back to the first half of the 19th century.

Legacy of the Celts
The Celts’ influence is felt strongly today in the six ‘Celtic Nations’, in the ruins of Celtic monasteries and other artefacts, in artwork and jewellery, including the Book of Kells, in the myths and legends that prevail especially in Ireland – the stories of the great feats and achievements of the Celts were passed by word of mouth from one generation to the next, forming the foundation of our great Irish oral tradition. They were eventually written down by monks in the eighth century, preserving Celtic mythology for centuries to come. 

Compiled & Written by Debb Greer.
Sources:  Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, History.com, BBC

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