Differential Emigration: The Case of Ireland
Introduction by Yair Davidiy
This article should be read in conjunction with Red Irish which deals with similar issues. Irish emigration was mainly to the USA, UK, and Australia. The sources below suggest that in the west of Ireland there once existed a warrior class who were relatively better off than the rest of the locals but not as well as other Irishmen to the east. On average, they were larger in body, more redhaired, and more fair than the others. After the Irish Great Famine (1845-52) this element was no longer as prominent as it had formerly been. Evidently aÂ disproportionate number of them had left Ireland and emigrated.
Alan Trowel Hands
...The famine and post-famine poverty seems to have been the watershed when Irish stature declined sharpley and never recovered its place (although I think there has been a huge leap in the last decade among young folk).
Even today, while both sides have a predominance of some shade of brown hair, red hair is seen as more typically catholic and blonde hair as most typically protestant.
I would agree with this but would also say that dark/black hair was more common amongst Ulster catholics than protestants.
On black/very dark brown hair, whilst I agree that it is a minority across the whole populations of Britain and Ireland, nevertheless, the highest frequencies observed were in parts of Western Ireland such as Kerry, Cork and Connemara and in the mountainous and hilly areas of Wales - and to a lesser extent in Cornwall and Devon.
Alan Trowel Hands
As for it being post-famine, in general those of the Irish catholic agricultural classes (ignoring the very top end of this strata like native squires etc) who migrated have been assessed by historians to be the less poor ones who had the boat fare. It was the very poorest who often stayed behind. So the migrants were kind of the better off of an admitedly poor class who formed the vast majority. Most too were from the poorer land areas of the west and other areas of poorer land in Ulster and elsewhere. So, the migrants were dominanted by the less poor of the poor Irish who relied on the potato due to bad land mainly in the western half or other marginal land areas of the country. The main result of that would be that the areas of poorer land lost a big chunk of the slightly less poor folk and the remaining population after the famine probably had an out of proportion number of the pre-famine absolutely bottom of the economic scale people and their offspring. ...
Red hair is most common in the most out of the way conservative native communities in my experience and least common in the east, Dublin etc. Wavey hair is common especially among people with red or mousey hair for some reason. Irishmen often have large heads and large faces and often strong chins (often cleft) but the central facial features are in contrast often small and boyish - noses in particular which are often very small for a large face. Foreheads tend to be vertical rather than sloping (I think this is an Irish characteristic). Profiles tend to be a relatively vertical too and slightly flat compared to other peoples with faces that thrust forward. Cities do not seem to have agreed with the Irish where you see a lot of very small, thin or squat guys of a non too healthy look in both Irish cities and in the Irish descended in British cities. In the latter the Irish dont look like the Irish of Ireland as they are a sort of hybrid of Irish and western British.
Irish women in the most 'native' parts of the north and west often have pleasingly gentely rouded soft broadish faces, small or snub noses are the norm, wide cheekbones and eyes under wide downward sloping very finely defined eyebrows (not at all bushy) and no brow ridges. The women usually lack the sharp angles of the faces of many north European females. I think this type of facial structure has something slightly Alpine looking about it, slightly French and is very different from nordic countries. Its different from the normal British look. Complextion remains rosey and freckly in woman longer than men. Typical Irish women have very pale skin, commonly have rosey cheeks and a scatter of light freckling. Its rare to see rural Irish with bad skin (I mean bad in terms of teenage skin troubles).
In general the Irish are fairer skinned and eyed than the British but with a trend to more dark brown hair. The Irish in general look much fairer than the western British but do not have the large blonde element of some eastern and southern British area. The Irish in general are very uniform and very dominated by the brown or reddish hair, blue eyes, fair skin combo. The British have far more extremes with both very dark people you wouldnt see in Ireland except rarely and super-blonde people you also wouldnt tend to see in Ireland. Overall the Irish rarely have a Med. look but its also not a classic nordic look either.
John Beddoe in 1885 did observe the highest frequencies of black hair in Cornwall, Wales, Western Scotland and Ireland. In Penzance in Cornwall 20% of the people had black hair. In nearly all of England black hair was observed at between 0 and 5%. Hereford and South Devon were somewhat higher than the rest of England.
Another thing is height. The Britons were noted in separate Roman accounts as being exceptionally tall and taller than the Gauls (Strabo). The Romans mentioned the Caledonians had large limbs and before the famine the Irish were the tallest population in Europe according to studies done of military records etc. External (usually hostile) accounts of the Irish from Gerald of Wales to De Cuellar to accounts of Irish soldiers on the continent and many others refer to the native Irish as large or large bodied. So, there clearly was a large strain among the pre-Germanic populations especially in Ireland and Scotland. The famine and post-famine poverty seems to have been the watershed when Irish stature declined sharpley and never recovered its place (although I think there has been a huge leap in the last decade among young folk).