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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
I. The Identity of the Gaels

This book is about the origins of the Irish and Scottish surnames of millions of Americans and Canadians. Much of the genealogical and cultural legacy of our Irish and Scottish ancestors has not been made available to the common English-speaking culture of North America. This state of affairs reflects the fact that much good scholarly work bearing on the subject has been "locked way" in academic works, often very old, by either Irish or British authors dealing primarily with their own respective geographical or subject areas. Specialized information from diverse academic sources (long overlooked by North American writers) is presented here in a unified text for the benefit of Irish and Scottish Canadians and Americans.

Though prior to the seventeenth century Ireland and Scotland were in many ways a single cultural unit, scholars since have skirted this issue, along with the issue of past Irish and Scottish Gaelic tribalism, and this is probably a result of their not spending the time to break into the enigma of Gaelic language and culture. As a result, they have tried to categorize Ireland and Scotland separately, and generally as a backwater of English history. This book provides a fresh, historically accurate treatment of the subject by considering both Gaelic areas, Ireland and Scotland, at once, and in the light of the best modern information from such fields as anthropology, history, folklore, genealogy, heraldry, literature and linguistics.

A close affinity has always existed between Ireland and Scotland, especially northern Scotland. The native peoples of these places, the Irish on the one hand, and the Scottish Highlanders on the other, are known collectively as "the Gaels," and share as well the common heritage of the Gaelic culture and tongue. Because of its continuity with its lndo-European past, this culture could during its sixteenth-century heyday be described as the most ancient, the most unaffected, and the most unchanged and unchanging in all of Europe. The earliest literature and history of the Gaels are particularly interesting for they provide a unique window on the Iron Age. But the history of Gaeldom involves an apparent cultural paradox, for Gaelic society enjoyed many of the benefits of "civilization" without being itself "civilized" in the sense of being organized around concentrated population centers, or cities.



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