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However, as a term it is on a par with Viking, as it describes an activity (raiding, piracy) and its proponents, not their actual ethnic affiliations.
The terms Irish and Ireland are probably derived from the goddess Ériu.
For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people (see Gaelic Ireland).
Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north.
A variety of historical ethnic groups have inhabited the island, including the Airgialla, Fir Ol n Echmacht, Delbhna, Fir Bolg, Érainn, Eóganachta, Mairtine, Conmaicne, Soghain, and Ulaid.
In the cases of the Conmaicne, Delbhna, and perhaps Érainn, it can be demonstrated that the tribe took their name from their chief deity, or in the case of the Ciannachta, Eóganachta, and possibly the Soghain, a deified ancestor.
The Irish have their own customs, language, music, dance, sports, cuisine and mythology.
The ancient peoples of Ireland—such as the creators of the Céide Fields and Newgrange—are almost unknown.The scientist Robert Boyle is considered the "father of chemistry", and Robert Mallet one of the "fathers of seismology". Many presidents of the United States have had some Irish ancestry.The population of Ireland is about 6.3 million, but it is estimated that 50 to 80 million people around the world have Irish forebears, making the Irish diaspora one of the biggest of any nation.In the 12th century, Icelandic bard and historian Snorri Sturluson proposed that the Norse gods were originally historical war leaders and kings, who later became cult figures, eventually set into society as gods.This view is in agreement with Irish historians such T. O'Rahilly and Francis John Byrne; the early chapters of their respective books, Early Irish history and mythology (reprinted 2004) and Irish Kings and High-Kings (3rd revised edition, 2001), deal in depth with the origins and status of many Irish ancestral deities.
This practice is paralleled by the Anglo-Saxon dynasties' claims of descent from Woden, via his sons Wecta, Baeldaeg, Casere and Wihtlaeg.