Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2006-01 > 1137540219

From: "siabair" <siabair@h=tmail.c=m>
Subject: Re: Niall of the Nine Hostages DNA
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 23:23:39 -0000
References: <dqh5vl$aru$> <43cc35c6@news.ColoState.EDU> <dqjdvr$o9h$> <dqjiev$193$>

Todd A. Farmerie wrote:
> Given the general nature of genealogies written in the 10th century
> purporting to trace to the 5th, I don't think you can automatically
> give them the benefit of the doubt.

Even assuming that this pessimistic dating is correct (and the body of
medieval Irish genealogies contain stratifiation indicating periodic
updating since the 7th century) the filiations obtain confirmation from
patronymics in annals maintained contemporaneously since around 550AD.
Many in this group would have no qualms creating the genealogy of an
Anglo-Norman baron from scratch using the type of material found in
these annals. Medieval Irish genealogy offers genuine medieval
genealogical texts cross-referenced to a seperate document tradition,
generations counted, etc. How much more do you want?

> After the fact, who is a 10th century family
> derived from this group likely to choose to trace their descent from?
> Niall, the tribal hero, or the third-cousin-twice-removed?

You ignore the stratifiation indicating periodic updating since the 7th
century. You are also missing an important dynamic. Ruling groups
segment and the genealogical imperative for the competing segments is to
define a closer and more exclusive descent from a more recent common
ancestor than that of the wider group. Power transmits from the
near-present rather than the remote past. In a 10th century context a
descent from Niall is unremarkable.

> Lest someone misinterpret this: individual pedigrees must be evaluated
> on their own, and if they prove a descent from Niall, the DNA is
> superfluous. At least one (really two from different sons) such
> pedigree must be upheld in order to conclude that the potential
> ancestor in question even belonged to the haplogroup being studied.
> If the pedigree does not stand up to critical scrutiny, the DNA
> cannot serve as a proxy to 'prove' that they have such a descent,
> because it only identifies the agnatic kinship group to which one
> belongs, not specific ancestors.

You seem to be creating a scenario of choice in which either the DNA is
irrelevant or the genealogy is invalid. The DNA indicates that a group
of men share a common ancestry. Documentation indicates that the same
group of men share an common ancestry. The DNA is not specific on the
lineage but the documentaton is. I see no reason why these two strands
of evidence cannot be seen to generally support each other.

> It was not just to trace to Adam that they were linked, but to show
> common descent from a unified Irish foundation legend and hence their
> rights to rule as representatives of the original foundation. These
> founders were then traced to Adam to fit in with the Christian ideal.
> It is a similar pattern to that seen elsewhere. The Anglo-Saxon
> rulers are all forged back to Woden. Then Woden is forged back to
> Geat (the 'ancestor' of all of the Germanic Goths), then Geat is
> forged back to Adam. These are sequential steps in the process, and
> the pedigree did not yet lead to Adam at the time the shared links to
> Woden were created. I don't expect the Irish to have been any
> different.

They were different. The Irish origin legend as we have it was based
from the outset on the Christian idea of history as given by Isidore of

SIABAIR (Old Irish) /shabba/ 'ghost, 'phantom', 'spectre'

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