Were the Irish Living in the Southeast Before Columbus Arrived?
Irish culture is filled with tales of fairies, banshees and leprechauns, and there is nothing as Irish as a good story. It only makes sense then that there could be a good Native American story about the Irish, maybe as unprovable as the others, but as one archaeologist said, “Anything is possible.”
There are records that suggest the Irish came to America before Christopher Columbus, but while there is no solid evidence, there certainly are hints.
One of the first recorded curiosities originated in 1521, when Spaniard Peter Martyr took reports from Columbus and other explorers who had investigated the Southeast coast of today's South Carolina and Georgia. A baptized Chicora Native and a Spanish explorer reported to Martyr that they had come upon a group of people who called themselves the Duhare.
The Duhare were different than the Chicora Natives in the area. While all of the local Natives were described as having varying degrees of brown skin, the Duhare were described as white-skinned with brown hair that hung to their heels. They were said to herd deer in the way that Europeans herded cattle. Martyr wrote that the fawns were kept in the houses and the deer would go out to pasture during the day, returning at night to suckle their fawns. After the deer had nursed their young, they were milked and the milk was turned to cheese.
Deer milk has been celebrated in Gaelic poetry but usually in mythical situations. Reindeer were herded in Scotland until the 1300s, and a paper by Erin NhaMinerva, from Ireland, mentions deer being milked, but more in mythic terms than as a regular part of the diet.
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