The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Irish roots go deep into History

How old are the Irish? By this I do not mean how old an individual Irish man or woman is, but how old the race is.

From time, to time, I have wondered about the origin of the Irish: what makes them distinct from other Europeans - indeed, are they distinct from them?

To look at, an Irishman is very easily picked out, if you know what to look for. The fact that there is a particular typical appearance suggests a unique set of genes which distinguish them from the other nationalities and races of the world. I have always thought this, by observation alone.

I have also opined, to others that, as an Irishman, I was of an older race than the Europeans to whom I spoke. I don't know why I felt this, I just did. They, of course, shrugged off, or laughed off the suggestion, depending on personality - and one, in particular, argued vehemently against it for a good twenty minutes, as if personally offended by the idea that the Irish might be of more antique stock than other Europeans.

The funny thing is, I was right and all those who laughed, scoffed, shrugged off or argued against me, were wrong. The Irish are the oldest race in Europe according to recent genetic research.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin completed a genetic map of 200 Irish people and compared the Irish samples to over 8,000 other samples from around Europe. What they found stunned them and overturned all the ideas people had had about the Irish (except for me and mine I might add). The genetic testing proved that Irish people with Gaelic surnames (like my family, for Cawley is a rewrite of a Gaelic name), from the West of Ireland (where we are from) are NOT descended from the same group of people who populated the rest of Europe. In fact, the genetic testing proves that these Irish people - true Irish, if you like - are descendants of a far older race - of the pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers before the farmers came from the South-East of Europe. The Irish are, indeed, an ancient race - the oldest in the Caucasian world. The Irish are a remnant of the pre-Neolithic hunters that existed before the agricultural revolution swept the world bringing new ways, and new genes with it. The thinking is that the invasion of large numbers of agricultural people from the South East pushed the original hunters (who for economic reasons are necessarily much smaller in numbers) to the margins of the world. They found shelter in the chilly, unwelcoming West of Ireland, where they lived in genetic isolation from the rest of the world for the next ten thousand years. You see an Irishman of today, from the West of Ireland, which had little or no contact with the rest of the world (and if you ever go there you would see the same forces at work today), is an inheritor of an ancient genetic lineage. His (or her) genes are not the ones found in the rest of the farmer descended Europeans, but are those of Ancient man. They have the genetic makeup of Stone Age Hunters. At the very latest these would have been Early Mesolithic hunters - but the work suggests an origin of "over 10,000 years ago" - which is outside the Mesolithic and would, I suppose, put it into the Upper Paleolithic (the period of 30,000 B.C to 10,000 BC)

The marker used in the study is quite distinct and this research is not in the least controversial. The researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, looked for Haplogroup 1, which is a genetic marker present in the oldest group of humans to ever enter Europe. Their genetic map was telling. They discovered a gradient of Haplogroup 1 throughout Europe, the lowest prevalence being in Turkey, at only 1.8 %, showing that the Turks have very little genetic influence from the most ancient of men. The highest prevalence of Haplogroup 1 is found in the West of Ireland with prevalences reaching as high as 98.3 % of all Irish men carrying the gene, in Connaught. This means that these true Irish men are derived almost entirely from Stone Age stock, with almost no admixture of more recent genetic lineages from other races/areas of mankind. This result could only have happened under conditions of extreme and persistent genetic isolation over a ten thousand year period. It is astonishing, really, when you think about it - but that is what happened to the Irish: isolated from the rest of the world, for ten millenia (at least in the West of Ireland). The results, however, are very interesting - for it means that the Irish have preserved, in their blood, the genetic inheritance of the Stone Age (Middle and Old Stone Age) hunters.

The Haplogroup 1 is present on the Y chromosome inherited by males from the father. The average prevalence of Haplogroup 1 across the whole of Ireland was 78.1% - but this diluted number includes those descended from the British, Scottish and Normans/Vikings - who are almost exclusively present in the East of Ireland. Those descended from Irish alone show the Stone Age marker at almost 100% prevalence.

It is funny that what I had always felt to be the case, turns out to be true. The Irish are truly a race apart - and older, more ancient than any other Caucasian group, you will ever meet.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and ten months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and three months, and Tiarnan, twenty months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:48 AM 


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