The first people to live in Ireland would have had a much darker skin tone than a modern day white Irish person, according to a Trinity College Dublin professor.
It follows the news that scientists had tested the DNA of the early British person ‘Cheddar Man’ and discovered that he would have had dark skin and blue eyes.
Dan Bradley, who is professor of population genetics at Trinity, says that early Irish people would have also had a darker skin tone linked to countries such as Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Bradley told RTÉ Radio One’s “Morning Ireland” show: “The earliest Irish would have been the same as Cheddar Man and would have had darker skin than we have today.”
He said that Irish researchers had carried out DNA analysis on the 6,000-year-old remains of two men who had lived in Ireland. The results were very similar to Britain’s ‘Cheddar Man’.
Bradley continued: “We think [the Irish examples] would be similar. The current, very light skin we have in Ireland now is at the endpoint of thousands of years of surviving in a climate where there’s very little sun,” Bradley continued.
“It’s an adaptation to the need to synthesize vitamin D in skin. It has taken thousands of years for it to become like it is today.”
Cheddar Man would have lived in England around 10,000 years ago. His remains were found in a cave in 1903.
Until recently it was assumed that he would have looked similar to a modern white British person. However, a revolutionary new DNA analysis process allowed researchers to learn far more about the man than was ever possible before.
A facial reconstruction from their data revealed that he had ‘dark to black’ skin, blue eyes and dark curly hair.
He was part of the ‘Western Hunter Gatherer’ genetic group. Around 10% of modern Brits are descended from this group.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling
Check out the Ireland Calling YouTube Channel