Why the Galicians are the Irish of Spain

WARNING: Contains generalisations presented as facts without evidence to back them up.

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Galicia is a fascinating part of Spain, tucked away above Portugal. It has its own language (between Portugese and Spanish) and some uncanny parallels with Ireland.

  1. It rains all the time and is consequently very green.
  2. It’s battered by the Atlantic.
  3. Weird similarities in traditional music.
  4. According to some, there are more people of Galician origin in America than Galicia, due to famine and poverty in the 19th century.
  5. Getting onto the beer angle. Their major beer is seriously over-rated. Estrella de Galicia is probably my least favourite beer in Spain. How can you manage to have smooth flow lager? I also tried their 1906 “Reserva” which was actually worse than the normal lager.
  6. The reputation for being twinkly-eyed, salt of the earth types. Particularly when it comes to bars. It’s a broad generalisation (I warned about those) but Galician bars in cities like Madrid and Barcelona are often extremely friendly places, with very good service and excellent atmosphere. What’s interesting is that I think we’re seeing the start of the “Galician theme bar” (i.e. like O’Neill’s in the UK), cashing in on this reputation. I certainly visited one in Burgos.

The food choice tends to be more exciting in Galician bars than Irish bars though…

15 thoughts on “Why the Galicians are the Irish of Spain”

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  2. I don’t know where you got that ideia that our language is something in between Portuguese and Spanish: Galician is not a creole language as you suggest, Portuguese is a variation of Galician, and the first document in Galician/Portuguese is older than the first Spanish.

    For many of us, we are not a “part of”, we are a nation.

    Cheers!

  3. KHM – I was thinking more of the bangers and mash you get in O’Neils.

    Rodrigo and other amigos galegos – thanks for dropping by. As I’m sure you can see, this is a light hearted blog about beer, rather than attempting serious political or linguistic comment on Galicia.

    I find the language fascinating, wherever it comes back from, and would dearly love to visit Galicia properly. Grazas.

  4. I can’t agree with your low appreciation of Galician beer (Estrella de Galicia). To me it’s Spanish beers like “San Miguel” or (even worse) Mahou that taste like baby piss. Anyway, if visitors don’t like the local lager they can still try our white wine. You can order a glass of Ribeiro or Albariño anywhere, and it’ll cost you a trifle. Believe me, Albariño is the best white wine in the Iberian Peninsula.

  5. Marcel – thanks for visiting. If it’s any consolation, I have no time for San Miguel or Mahou either.

    Unfortunately I’m not very keen on white wines but I’ve heard very good things about the ones from Galicia. Would go nicely with that delicious seafood.

  6. The similarities aren’t weird at all. There’s a proper anthropological theory that Gaelic culture is the northern iteration of a single culture which once stretched all the way down the east coasts of the Atlantic. The received notion that Gaelic culture is somehow “Celtic”, related to the Celts of ancient France and Switzerland, is on very shaky ground now and often seen as a dodgy bit of Victorian pseudo-anthropology.

    Which seems more likely: that the Irish share cultural roots with the Galicians, or with the Swiss?

  7. Estrella Galicia is a fine beer, and 1906 even better. But it’s a sipping beer, not suitable for drinking in pints. Are you seriously saying it’s worse than San Miguel and other piss lagers with no character from Spain?

  8. I agree with the blogger. Estrella Galicia is probably the beer brand I have drunk the most in my life… and still despise it.
    Just because it is my home-country-beer does not mean I must like it.

    I would take a San Miguel though, any problems with it?

  9. The Beer Nut’s comment is spot on.
    These are the latest news about the so called “celticism” that is so in vogue today, specially in Galicia.

    Up to now, we used to think that celts arrived in ireland (and the british isles in general) and other parts of western Europe from the continent (south of germany and switzerland) in ancient times.

    But now this theory is being challenged by new scientific researchs through DNA investigations.
    It seems that spaniards (spacially those of the north, such as galicians, asturians, cantabrians, basques, etc) are very closely related to the irish, welsh and british people in general (excluding those with viking or norse ancestry).

    Irish are almost entirely spanish (at least this is what their DNA shows), and in the english side, no man is less than 58% spanish (the lowest percentage). Usually, it is around 68% in parts of England, up to almost 100% in parts of ireland and wales.

    It is known by roman sources that the inhabitants of a large part of Spain were celts, and those in the center of the peninsula were called celtiberians, but the romans didn´t know whether the celts arrived from central Europe or were originally from this place.

    The new researchs suggest that celts were probably originated in Spain and spread all over Europe.
    Another theory suggest that in fact, the Atlantic facade (galicia, ireland, bretagne, etc) is populated by the same race, but that they are probably not celts at all (there is no single historical source that calls “celts” to the irish).

    By the way, I’m argentinean of galician and asturian origin, I’m tall, very pale, brown headed and I have blue eyes. Whenever I go abroad people ask me if I have irish blood. Many people in Galicia look like me and, likewise, many irishmen look strikingly galician to me.

    What do you all think about this?

  10. Estrella de Galicia is better than mahou and mansiguel but as Galicia is a wine drinking region its not gonna be as good as irish or german beers. For those wondering about Galician and Irish links kingship of ireland by irish, british and scottish kings was always linked to the Milesian legend that Breogan descendent of king Gaytheleos king of the Iberian Scota (celts) built a tower in Brigantium (La Coruna, Galicia) (not braganza as a couple of websites suggest) from which Innis Fail (ireland) was spotted, he sent his sons to find out about it but these were attacked and one of his sons killed. Breogan then sent a massive army of invasion as retribution, who eventually conquered the land and renamed it after Bregans son Ire.

  11. Hi, i´m galician, and i want said, than the estrella galicia are a good beer. The irish, german, check republic beers are beters, but in spain, estrella galicia, keller 18, cerveza zaragozana, are the beters.
    The cuestions of genetic and history conections, are good loock the atlantic bronce age. In this point begin the conections, and loock the III strabo boock and read someting of the cassiterides islands. this cuestion said something of the relations of the periferic countrys in iron age

  12. Spanish beer blows. It’s light and pissy like. Why would anyone pass up a guinness that is full of flavor and body over a piss like beer like the ones in Spain. Slainte…. Anhow, People from Northern Spain vary in look. You have the very Mediterranean look with the olive skin, dark eyes and dark hair. Then you have my mom who is tall, extremely fair with green eyes. My dad’s side of the family is Irish from Galway and I can see a Spanish look there as well. We are like a fecking tossed salad all mixed to make a grand meal.

  13. Hola/Kaixo Chico´s,
    Whiskey,Beer,Wine,Cider its all good,as me aul Basque Father in law always quotes..its better than water which is for the animals..whats more important is drinking in good company..if ever you get to Gernika your very welcome in Scanlan´s Irish Tavern run by myself..
    But i am looking foward to having a Galician or Irish beer in Finbars Mathews La Coruna soon..Hasta la Cerveza chico´s……Agur-Slain!!

  14. Intersting this is to me. I was born in the USA California to be exact. Grandparents immigrated from southern spain. That being said, my grandfather looked very Irish. In fact a very very similar look to James Cagney the actor. My grandfather many times was stopped and asked if he was Jimmy Cagney. In doing an analysis of my DNA I have noted bloodlines from Sweeden and N. Ireland. I am sure I have celtic blood in me. One of my family names originiates from Galicia.

    I see many spaniards ( old ones) where the women could pass as older women form Ireland. I would say spaniards on a whole would look closer to like the Irish and Welch. I will say this is primarily seen in Northern like Galicia and Austurias…Hope this sort of helps.

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