The search for the Celtic descent of the Irish will cover a huge time span and an immense geographical area. This quest starts around 2500 BCE on the Iberian Peninsula with the Bell Beakers, and via the Hallstatt and La Tène culture of Central Europe we will finally arrive on Ireland somewhere around 50 BCE.
Culture – Era
Bell Beakers: 2600-1900 BC
Únětice culture: 2300-1600 BC
Tumulus culture: 1600-1200 BC
Urnfield culture: 1200-750 BC
Hallstatt culture: 1200-500 BC
La Tène culture: 500- 50 BC
Out of reach of the Roman culture, which dominated the European mainland and the south of Britain, Ireland became some sort of sanctuary for the Celtic culture in which the Ogham Alphabet and the Brehon Law blossomed and flourished.
We guarantee that the journey is educational yet pleasant, but we can not claim that our impression of things is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As usual in these matters theories are disputed by scientists and new points of view are published on an almost daily basis. We are not the right persons to settle the disputes and it is impossible for us to keep pace with every new theory.
Furthermore we have to inform you that the succession of cultures is just an academic model enabling us to grasp the course of European history during the Bronze Age. In the absence of eyewitness reports this model solely relies on archaeological excavations and interpretations. Obviously this unilateral approach is not flawless. An archaeologist can draw a truthful floor plan of a dwelling, but the exact appearance of the roof is – notwithstanding his higher education – guesswork. We can pursue this comparison to the terms culture and tribes.
Until the fifth century BCE we can only tell the result of the burial ceremonies of the various cultures (i.e. people were buried in flat graves, beneath tumuli or cremated), but we have no idea what took place at the graveside (i.e. who attended the burial, was the burial a merry passage rite or a mournful final farewell ceremony, did they prey and if so how and to whom or what).
It is possible that, although the result of the ceremony was similar over a large geographical area, the ceremony itself varied from valley to valley and from hilltop to hilltop. The difference between result and reason is – a bit simplified – the difference between a culture and a tribe. As a result it is virtually impossible to identify tribes in Central Europe before they made contact with the writing Greeks in the fifth century BCE.