Irish and Udmurts Share “Redheadedness”

Today is a first for this blog, So I am delighted to introduce you to my first ever guest blogger; Steve Hague from Life in Russia. Steve is a keen Traveller, Photographer, Business Coach and Writer. We have known each other from the early days when we both begun blogging and have been following each other ever since. After moving to Russia to be with his wife and family a couple of years ago, Steve embarked on a new adventure and begun learning a new language and exploring the depths of the Russian culture.  Some time ago I wrote a two part article on the Heritage and history of my town, for Steve’s blog which you can read HERE and HERE. So now it is Steve’s turn, I have to admit, I was delighted to read this interesting and well researched article, as both my wife and daughter are redheads. I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did. You can also follow Steve on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

When I decided to share a post with Ed Mooney Photography I wanted to share the commonalities between Ireland and Russia. When I first started looking I had no idea what if anything they shared in common. I started by digging deep into the history of both the Irish and Russians. What began as a simple search became more complex and puzzling. Some parts of what I found where startling and other quite surprising.


There is a lot of detail that one could go into here but for the sake of time and space let’s start with Japheth who was the son of Noah. In biblical as well as quranic tradition Japheth is considered to be the father of Europeans. The tribes Gog and Magog are also regarded as descendants of Japheth.


A couple of months ago this map did the rounds. It’s quite nice right? It shows that in most of Scotland and Ireland, as well as a random patch in central Russia, 10% of people are of the ginger genre. By contrast, less than 1 in every 100 people in southern Europe have red hair. Best of all, it shows all of this using a colour scale of autumnal auburns and reds.

Tubalism and Basque-Iberism

Developed by Esteban de Garibay and Andrés Poza, this legend states that the Basque people are direct descendants of Tubal, grandson of Noah, fifth son of Japheth. According to it, Japheth and his tribe, the Iberians, departed to the Iberian Peninsula, settling between the Pyrenees and the river Ebro, right after the confusion of languages in the Tower of Babel.


Basques, along with Irish, show the highest frequency of the Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup R1b in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe the Udmurts share these same genetics. The Y-chromosome and MtDNA relationship between the Basques and people of Ireland and Wales is of equal ratios as to neighboring areas of Spain.


The Udmurts, an Uralic tribe living in the northern Volga basin of Russia, between Kazan and Perm, are the only non-Western Europeans to have a high incidence of red hair (over 10%). What is fascinating is that the Udmurts and Tajiks aren’t Celts, nor Germans. Yet, all these people share a common ancestry that can be traced back to a single Y-chromosomal haplogroup: R1b. How did this happen? If we look at fisrt map above it shows the Udmurts  as being the center of the R1b group, the second map shows Kapova being the location of one of the proto-basque communities. Is it possible that this is the link between the Irish and Udmurts?


In the Stone and Bronze Ages, Ireland was inhabited by Picts in the north and a people called the Erainn in the south, the same stock, apparently, as in all the isles before the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. About the 4th century B.C., tall, red-haired Celts arrived from Gaul or Galicia and established their distinctive culture , although they do not seem to have come in great numbers. Ancient Irish legend tells of four successive peoples who invaded the country?the Firbolgs, the Fomors, the Tuatha De Danann, and the Milesians.

06 (2)

The names Galics in the British Isles, Gallatia in the Balcans, Gallia or Gaul in France, Galicia in Spain and Galicja in Poland and todays Ukraine are testimonies of the route taken by the Goidels or Gaidheil tribes, in their migration into Europe from a place somewhere in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) is more than likely the origins of both these groups.


Origins of Udmurt Arts.

In Udmurt folklore, Turkish (especially Tatar) and then Slavic (primarily Russian) features were integrated into the original Finno-Ugrian (Permian) traditions. Two general types of folklore can be distinguished: the Southern quatrains with fixed rhythm, rhymes, and parallel structures, which bear the marks of Turkish influence, and the Northern songs, which are longer and freer in form and content. These, often improvised, have much in common with the music of other Finno-Ugrians. Folktales and legends are also popular, although the former have lost much of their Udmurt flavor and now differ only in minor ways from other typically European themes and motifs. The legends retain more references to both the Udmurt past and present. Classic historical legends recount wars between different clans and their leaders and between the Udmurt and neighboring ethnic groups (Cheremis and invading Tatars). There were also many legends about clashes with the Russians, but all traces of these were removed by the official cultural policy. There remain a great number of local legends, focusing on the past and the genesis of a settlement, a stream, a hill, or a rock. The tales and legends draw on Udmurt mythology, the vitality of which could not be blunted by Orthodoxy or the later Soviet regime. There are many individual motifs in the less well-known genres (proverbs, riddles, and dramatic customs).


In 2012 a Udmurt singing group called Buranovo Babushki (Russian Grannies) competed in Eurovision. They represented Russia in singing the song “Party for Everybody“. The group itself formed as a way to raise funds for the rebuilding of Trinity Church in Buranovo and all of the group’s income was donated into this fund. It was because of all their hard work that a stone monument was placed near the church which has a plaque reads (in Russian language): “By the Grace of God and hard labor of the music group Buranovskie Grandmothers, on this place will be built a temple to honor the Holy Trinity. This stone laid Oct 28, 2011.”

The little ladies in traditional dresses and kerchiefs put on a rock ’n’ roll performance that invited the world to laugh at them, smiling slyly as they shuffled across the stage and belted out their version of a hard-partying anthem, complete with a chorus in English:

“Party for everybody — dance! Come on and dance! Come on and dance! Come on and boom boom!”

A video of the performance became a hit on the Web, adding to the more than 100 million television viewers who saw their act.

Udmurt and Irish Folk Dancing

The other thing I found quite fascinating was the similarities and differences between Udmurt and Irish Folk dancing. What better way to bring people together than to celebrate through dance.

Udmurt Folk Dance


Russian thought on Redheadness

Russian tradition declares that red hair is both a sign that a person holds a fiery temper and craziness.

A Russian Proverb warns “There was never a saint with red hair.”

The country name of Russia means “land of reds” in honor of a redheaded Viking by the name of Rurik.

Red-haired Clowns have their origins in Russia.



About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
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51 Responses to Irish and Udmurts Share “Redheadedness”

  1. newsferret says:

    Boy, did I enjoy this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Uncle Spike says:

    That’s some guest post! Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. archecotech says:

    Reblogged this on Life in Russia and commented:
    This is a post that I had to do a lot of research on, it took several months to find what I was looking for, it seemed every time I turned around I’d find something new and intriguing. It honestly got to a point of not knowing when to stop. I really believe this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I also wanted to thank Eddie for being so patient while I put this piece together. Like he said we started blogging about the same time. Like many of his posts I’d explore all the little details wanting to know just how some of these things came to be. Here in this post exposes just a little bit of just that. Thanks again Eddie for the opportunity.


    • Nik Draycott says:

      Hi there, its amazing that this article is here , and so recently as well. I am exploring this connection, and have just done my DNA national geographic test, which includes gene concentrations in Ireland and Central Russia. And yes i have red hair. My email is if you wish to talk further. Many thanks for the article again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. armenpogharian says:

    I always enjoy the level of detail in your posts – original and guests.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ramblingsofaperforatedmind says:

    My grandpa was a ginger, as are various members of my family, so this article was very interesting. I can attest to the link between red hair and hot tempers because my temper is a force of nature. A saint I will never be!


  6. Very interesting. I’m glad you invited him to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tish Farrell says:

    Fascinating topic, and lots of well done research. It’s rather wonderful to look a photograph where everyone has red hair. Magic!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s so interesting and well-researched.


  9. wildninja says:

    Did not know this. Fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. aquacompass7 says:

    It was an interesting topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun guest post. There is red hair in my family, though it passed me by and left only the strawberry blonde… and maybe the crazy. Just sayin’. Thank you, Steve Hague.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. fascinating genetics!! and the red hair connection. Wonderful video!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. lauramacky says:

    I hardly read these types of posts but I really enjoyed this! I’ve recently been studying the bible so I found this exceptionally informative. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. uaifestival says:

    I liked the most this part “The tribes Gog and Magog are also regarded as descendants of Japheth”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. LB says:

    Folk dancing. Gingers. Fun, and informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gorgeous post. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ali Isaac says:

    This is fascinating Ed! Well, you know where my fascination with redheads comes from. I’m proud to say I started life as one myself, but my hair got darker and darker as I got older. My oldest son is a true redhead and Denann, at 12 he already has the muscle and stature of a young man, something he didnt inherit from his parents lol! Mind you, hes been playing rugby since age 5, perhaps that has something to do with it! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  18. themofman says:

    Very in depth. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. gaiainaction says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing write up, so interesting! I’m a redhead, I’m from Flanders with roots also in Holland, all of my 10 brothers and sister are redheads too 🙂 You did some great research! By the way I live in the S.West of Ireland, and the hair here is mostly black, but higher up in Ireland as one of your maps pointed out there are a lot of redheads.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. jhartogs says:

    Reblogged this on Irish history, folklore and all that and commented:
    Very interesting blog post on those fiery redheads.


  21. Thanks for the visit to my blog and liking many posts, Best wishes and prayers

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Very excellent research on the redheaded gene and maps to support the research! Interesting comparison of the dances of the different cultures. It just goes to show that people all over the world enjoy their cultural heritage and how the cultures have intermixed throughout time. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Reblogged this on The Linden Chronicles and commented:
    Fascinating information on the frequency and history of redheadedness


  24. Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog says:

    Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.


  25. chattykerry says:

    That’s an utterly fascinating article. When I lived in Cairo you would see locals with olive skin and dark red hair (much prized in the Muslim world). The theory was that they came from Greek and Viking ancestors but who knows? Some of my Irish ancestors had gorgeous dark auburn hair but I look like a plain old Swede. 🙂


    • Thanks for sharing about what you saw in Cairo. I was surprised recently to read that certain Egyptian mummies, including I believe Ramses (II?), are red headed. At first, it was thought that something about the mummification process had turned black hair red. But researchers put hair samples through what they thought the process was, and it didn’t change the color. So perhaps there is a red strain in Egyptian genetics as well, surprising as we may find it.


  26. aj vosse says:

    I have to admit… I have a “thing” for the gingers ladies… shhhh… don’t tell my missus!! 😉


  27. beetleypete says:

    My stepdaughters both have red hair. They were teased terribly at school, but when they got older, they decided to embrace being ‘ginger’, and it changed their lives.
    Thanks very much for following my blog.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I love this. Thanks for sharing it. As you say, there is so much detail that it’s impossible to plumb it all! Our human history is so long and complex!

    I am surprised the incidence of red hair is so low in Norway and Holland. I understood it to be somewhat common there as well.

    Also, I believe that a redheaded gene goes way back in the Jewish population (even before they lived in Europe and intermarried to a limited extent with Indo-Europeans)? I am told tradition says that King David was a redhead. Also, the Egyptians have a myth about a redheaded man named Seth (brother of Osiris, if I’m not mistaken), who was the villain of the story. Interesting.

    Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, has said there is a genetic link between red or fair hair and a tendency toward heightened sensitivity to stimuli, including pain. This might connect to the having-a-temper stereotype as well?

    Thanks for these delightful photos, videos and maps.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Pingback: Linkownia pięćdziesiąta siódma – Radomir Darmiła

  30. Wow that’s awesome work


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