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Surprise: They’re Not All Blondes

Some Surprising Results from Gene Studies

Some Surprising Results from Gene Studies

All the people in the above photograph are Icelanders. What you are looking at are some of the contestants in the Irish Days festival in Akranes, a small city just north of Reykjavík. Now why would Iceland be having an Irish Days festival?

Apparently Iceland was first settled by Irish hermit monks for about a century before Ingólfur Arnarson became the first Scandinavian settler in A.D. 874. These papar (“Papists”), as they were called, did not stick around once they were surrounded by hyper-aggressive heathens. And, being celibate, they probably did not add their genes to the population of Iceland; but the Vikings did raid Ireland for slaves, and that’s where things suddenly become interesting.

Genetic studies taken of the Icelandic population show that 20% of the males and 63% of the females have Irish ancestry. I find that statistic to be interesting, but I have some trouble wrapping my head around it. Even if the Vikings preferred Irish redheads to the Scandinavian blondes, the Irish women would give birth to as many if not more males than females (the ratio is 21:20 in the U.S.). Perhaps the male Irish slaves had a harder life and were not permitted to mate, while the women were encouraged to bear children, whether within or outside of wedlock. If so, it’s just another instance of the hard life that the Irish have suffered through the ages.

Prizewinner at Akranes

Prizewinner at Akranes

By the way, the winner of the Akranes competition was one Laufey Heiða from the Westfjords. Runner-up was Vígdis Birna, who is shown above receiving her prize.

One thing I can say with certainty is that Icelandic women tend to be beautiful, whether they are blondes or redheads.