Irish Discovered America before Columbus
While Christopher Columbus is generally credited with having "discovered"
America in 1492, a 1521 Spanish report provides inklings of evidence that
there were, in fact, Irish people settled in America prior to Columbus’
“Researchers feel certain that there was a colony of Irish folk living in what
is now South Carolina, when Christopher Columbus 'thought' he had discovered
the New World,” writes Richard Thornton for The Examiner.
In 1520, Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, a historian and
professor, was appointed by Charles V, ruler of
the Holy Roman Empire from 1519, to be chronicler
for the new Council of the Indies.
Though Martyr died in 1526, his report, founded
on several weeks of interviews, was published
posthumously in a book named "De Orbe Novo" (About
the New World). The book has been published and
translated numerous times in the centuries since
then. The passages concerning the land that would become Georgia and the Carolinas
were always included, but generally ignored, says Thornton.
While interviewing Spanish colonists, Martyr took note of their vicious treatment
of Chicora Indians. However, he also included in his report that the Spanish
colonists had a very good relationship with another nearby colony, which Martyr
reported to be named Duhare.
Physically, the people of Duhare appeared to be European according to the Spanish
colonists in the area. The people of Duhare had red to brown hair, tan skin and
gray eyes, and were noticeably taller than the Spanish. According to Spanish
accounts, the people of Duhare were Caucasian, though their houses and pottery
were similar to those of American Indians.
The king of Duhare was said to be named Datha and was described by the Spanish as
being a giant, even when compared to his peers. He had five children and a wife
as tall as him. Datha had brightly colored paint or tattoos on his skin that
seemed to distinguish him from the commoners.
Despite Martyr’s report that included the apparently unique tribe of the Duhare,
the believed predecessors of the Creek Indian tribe, more recent scholars are
wary of the possibility of a Caucasian tribe at that time in America.
“In 1922 the Smithsonian Institute published, 'Early History of the Creek Indians
and Their Neighbors' by renowned ethnologist, John W. Swanton. It included much
of Martyr’s passages on Duhare, but was prefaced with contemptuous remarks by
Swanton that the story couldn’t be true and that the Duhare were probably a
Siouan tribe,” explains Thornton.
However, later in 2006, People of One Fire, a nationwide team of Native American
scholars, primarily of Creek Indian heritage, began a comprehensive research
program to obtain more accurate and detailed knowledge of North America’s
As part of their research, they began to attempt to translate every single Native
American word that was translated by the Spanish. While many of those words were
easily translated by modern Creek, Alabama, Koasati or Choctaw dictionaries, the
words associated with the province of Duhare defied translation until 2011.
Researchers began to investigate the similarity of Irish rock carvings to those
in the state of South Carolina. One member of the People of One Fire team came
across an ancient Irish lullaby entitled “Bainne nam fiadh”
- "On milk of deer I was reared.
On milk of deer I was nurtured.
On milk of deer beneath the ridge of storms
on crest of hill and mountain.”
The lullaby has particular significance as the deer were a prominent resource
for Duhare people. According to Spanish sources, the Duhare maintained large
herds of domesticated deer and made cheese from deer milk. The excess male
deer population was fattened with corn for butchering.
The deer stayed in corrals within the villages at night, but grazed in herds
in the day time, accompanied by “deer-herders” and herd dogs. Neighboring
peoples knew not to hunt them.
The Duhare words, recorded by the Spanish, were able to be translated using
Gaelic dictionaries. Duhare, in fact, was found to be translated to either
“place of the Clan Hare,” or if the Duhare came from west of the Shannon
River, it meant, “du’hEir,” place of the Irish.
Further solidifying the Irish roots in Duhare, it was found that Datha,the
name of the leader of Duhare, was a standard Medieval Irish Gaelic word
that means “painted.” Datha of Duhare was remembered for being tattooed or
painted, as if to separate himself from the commoners – a tradition
Also in 2011, the mystery of the Reinhardt Boulder – an ancient and
mysterious carved rock that was found years ago on the Cline farm in the
Hickory Log area of Cherokee County in Georgia near the Etowah River – was
put to rest after striking similarities between its carvings and rock
carvings that originated around the Atlantic Coast of Ireland were
“There is a boulder on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry that has the
same glyphs (carvings) as the Reinhardt boulder and is approximately the
same size. The Reinhardt Boulders’ concentric circles are a common theme
of petroglyphic boulders all along the western Irish coast. However, the
answer to the riddle of the Reinhardt Petroglyph has created many more
questions about North America’s history before Christopher Columbus’s
voyage,” writes Thornton in a separate article.
Thornton himself asserts that researchers believe that the Duhare tribe
was established prior to Columbus “discovering” America in 1492. However,
he freely admits that historians and researchers do not know how, when,
or why the Irish arrived in present-day America.