03/21/10 - posted by Frank Dunnigan
I know that I'm opening up a controversial topic here, but I'll post a response to JoAnne's question about black Irish.

Within the Irish community itself, it is acknowledged that there are some native Irish people who have noticeably darker complexions, brown/black hair, and brown eyes as opposed to those "typically Irish" looks involving light skin complexion, reddish blonde or sandy hair color, and lighter eyes. Many individuals point to the sinking of the Spanish Armada off the west coast of Ireland in 1588, arguing that some survivors went ashore and intermarried with the native population, thus producing children who looked more Spanish (or Latin, or Italian) than most other Irish. There is little support for this notion within the scientific community, but it's a widely held belief among most Irish-Americans, and no one has ever definitively DISPROVED it.

My own mother & her two brothers (all the natural-born children of an Irish-American mother & a blond, blue-eyed German-American father) were olive-complected, with black hair and brown eyes. They looked identical to some long-time family friends of their own age, who had been born to parents from Spain. Strangers on the street routinely thought that Mom and her brothers would be able to speak Spanish or Sicilian. Only her youngest sister was born with a fair, freckled complexion and lighter brown hair. My father's Irish relatives, on the other hand, were all fair-haired, blue-eyed, and pale complected--Dad could get a sunburn in 10 minutes, while Mom could stay out all day and just get darker, while never burning in her whole life.

I ended up somewhere in the middle with brown hair, green eyes, and a medium complexion that is still quick to burn.
[ First Message ] [ Next Message ] [ Previous Message ] [ Last Message ]
[ Back to message list ]
The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.