There is an old legend
, which I believe has as much as been dismissed by historians, that when the Spanish Armada
sank of the coast of Ireland
, some of the Spaniards swam ashore, intermarried with the local girls
in the south and west, and that explains why some of the Irish are short with dark features. This has been proved untrue. However, it is interesting to note that this legend has an analogy in ancient Irish mythology.
In the Book of Invasions, the Milesians--sons of Mil Espane--sailed from Spain with their mother Scotta, the daughter of an Egyptian pharoh. They sailed over the ninth wave, a protective barrier set there by the Tuatha de Dannans, who are described as being tall and fair. The two sides battled; the de Dannans were driven into the hills, and the Milesians took over the island to become the present day Irish.
The facts may rest in this--there have been successive waves of immigration to the island, starting with pre-historic hunters and gatherers. It is thought that one of the last immigrations (before the Viking influx) were Iberian Celts from--you guessed it--what was once called Hispania by the Phoenicians (not too far from Egypt I may add), Spain.
However, the dark, short strand of Irish are thought to be an early stock.
It has been pointed out that the west and south populations are shorter, darker, and have type O blood--much like the Moors. Is there a connection between Ireland and North Africa? Possibly; some legends indicate so, as do some biological studies.