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Were the Romans ever in Ireland?
No. A couple of years ago, there was a report that there were very many Romain remains on a hill north of Dublin, and it was first regarded as a legionary base; later, it was intepreted as a trading post.
There has been some debate in recent years as to what extent the Roman influence on Ireland was. Generally it is agreed that there was no invasion, but even that has been questioned. There have been Roman finds in different parts of the island. On the web somewhere there is a brief article by Richard Warner of the Ulster Museum about Roman finds in Ireland and their distribution. He picks up on the fact that where there are Roman finds their are few indinenous finds and vice versa. I only came across this a couple of weeks ago and I think I saved it to my hard drive somewhere. If I find it I'll post the link. I attended a lecture a few years ago by Richard where he was adamant that there is archaeological evidence for Roman villas in Ireland built by returning traders or soldiers who had made their fortune in the empire. One of these is in the bend of the Boyne if I remeber correctly.
There was also a book published around 2002/3? by someone with an Italian surname who argued that there was clear archaeological evidence for a Roman invasion and settlement in Kerry - the Rock of Cashel. I would debate whether it is clear evidence but it is worth looking at - I'll see if I can get the copy from Kilrea library.

Stephen
The Book I referred to earlier is:

Roman Ireland by Vittorio Di Martino (Paperback - 1 Mar 2006) - £7.91

I only read 1 chapter and glanced through the rest. It was OK.


I found the article I mentioned on a pen drive and have pasted the text below.

British Archaeology, no 14, May 1996: Features
________________________________________
Yes, the Romans did invade Ireland
And we don't need Roman forts as evidence, says Richard Warner.
So did the Romans invade Ireland after all, or not? This question, which has snoozed quietly in the background of Irish studies for decades, has recently leaped forcefully again out into the open.
There are two reasons for this: first, this year's announcement of the discovery of a `Roman fort' at Drumanagh near Dublin (see BA, March); and second, the almost hysterical attempt by some leading Irish archaeologists to rubbish the claim, in support of the non-invasion orthodoxy.
In my view, the answer is overwhelmingly `yes' - the Romans did invade Ireland. But this has very little to do with the discovery of Drumanagh, where a large amount of Roman material has been found by detectorists, but about which we do not yet have any satisfactory information.
There are plenty of other reasons for believing the Romans invaded Ireland. But first, we need to define what we mean by `Romans' and `invasion'. No one doubts that Caesar `invaded' Britain, yet his largely non-Italian army left few discoverable traces, remained only for a short time, and failed to incorporate Britain into the official Roman domain. If it wasn't for the fortunate survival of his Gallic War, no archaeologist would be so bold as to postulate a Roman invasion of Britain in the 1st century BC. So let us define `Roman' as implying an origin in the Roman empire, and `invasion' as intrusion by force of arms in fairly substantial numbers. Let us not fall into the error of understanding invasion to be synonymous with national conquest or incorporation into Empire, or that all the persons involved were Italians.
There is surprisingly little Roman material in Ireland, but what there is has a strange distribution. None has been found in association with native material. Indeed, to a great extent the distributions of stray Roman and native objects are mutually exclusive. In other words, those native Irish possessed of a rich, La Tene-derived, ornament industry seem to have been uninterested in Roman trinkets. Moreover in the South East, in Leinster, which has produced a fair number of Roman objects and even Roman- style burials and cemeteries, native material is surprisingly rare.
From the archaeology alone we would infer substantial intrusions into the South East around the beginning of the 1st century AD, an inference supported by the fact that tribal names recorded by Ptolemy in the early 2nd century are identical to the names of tribes in Gaul and Britain. Furthermore, the early medieval peoples of the area had a strong tradition of a British origin, as well as using Roman and British loan-words in their literature and place-names.
Ancient Irish literary myths are not, nowadays, accepted as `history', but some of Ireland's finest scholars have accepted them as a shadow of history. One myth tells of an Irish chieftan, Tuathal, who spent some time in Britain early in the present era and returned with an army to seize power in the Irish Midlands. Curiously, Tacitus tells us that Agricola, while pondering the invasion of Ireland, had with him an Irish chieftain for use in just such an exercise. At about the same time, Juvenal specifically tells us, Roman `arms had been taken beyond the shores of Ireland'. The myth of Tuathal connects him to a number of Irish places, some of which have been excavated and have produced Roman material of the late 1st or early 2nd centuries AD. Indeed, the sparse inland distribution of early Roman material matches Tuathal's `mythical' campaign remarkably well.
We may interpret Tuathal as an exiled warrior/adventurer seizing and keeping power with the aid of Roman arms, who was followed by a number of other exiles with similar support over the next couple of centuries. We can say this because the sites that produce early Roman objects also produce later Roman material. In particular Tara, the midland ritual complex, and Clogher, a northern hillfort, have produced early and late Roman material, but no native objects. Both became capitals of the new ascendancies whose ancient origin-tales derived them, with their armies, from Britain. Cashel, the southern capital of just such a group, has not only produced a stray late Roman brooch, but was named from the Latin castellum.
It is not acceptable to dismiss this concatenation of evidence simply on the grounds that neither a Roman stone fortress nor straight road have been found. Nor may we easily dismiss the extraordinary fact that the material and, to a great extent, social culture of the upper class Irish from the 6th century on owes far more to Roman than to native Irish precursors. To give just two examples among many: the favoured Irish cloak-fastener from the 4th-11th century, the penannular brooch, evolved from a Romano-British brooch; and the early medieval Irish sword was, both in form and in name, a borrowing from that of the Roman army.
In short, early medieval Ireland has all the appearance of being, culturally, an heir to the Roman world of which, we are supposedly to believe, it was never part.
Richard Warner is Keeper of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Ulster Museum

Hope this helps.
Quote:Yes, the Romans did invade Ireland. And we don't need Roman forts as evidence, says Richard Warner.
We do, of course, need some scrap of evidence that places the Roman army in Ireland. I'm sure if Dr Warner (or anybody else) actually had that evidence, we'd have seen it by now! Big Grin
I fully agree that there is no substantive evidence for the Roman army ever invading or settling on Irish soil. The arguments that have been put forward for that are ex silentio and circumstantial. The original question posed concerned evidence for Romans being in Ireland rather than the army specifically and I think there is enough evidence to show trade links. A recent post-graduate student of the Institute of Byzantine Studies at The Queen's University, Belfast has just finished a thesis on the archaeological evidence of links between early Byzantium and Ireland if that is of interest to anyone.
Quote:A recent post-graduate student of the Institute of Byzantine Studies at The Queen's University, Belfast has just finished a thesis on the archaeological evidence of links between early Byzantium and Ireland if that is of interest to anyone.

Very much so! Will it be published? Or available online?
If this chap Warner is saying there are finds, then surely there are?
Why put your reputation on the line like that otherwise?
I have no doubt that the Romans visited Ireland. Traders, diplomatic missions, perhaps even military visit? But as for permanent or even temporary military installations? No evidence.

In fact, the thousands of Roman military objects found in Danish and German bogs could much sooner be taken for signs of military occupation - but no-one even contemplates that!

I guess it's also a case of people wanting the Romans to occupy (part of ) Ireland (or not!).. :?
In the book "The Celts" by Dr. Aedeen Cremin claims that the ancient greeks thought or refered to Ireland as the "sacred isle"? He doesn't explain who said it or why they thought so.
To say Roman troops were never in Ireland is quite hard to swallow. To think how far the Romans went, took over and how long they were in Britain, that they wouldn't send something like 100 troops over for a night or two?
To me, I would have to say they did at LEAST that. So, you could say the Romans WERE there.......just not a very long time!
I bet it was the wet and cold that really put them off to Ireland! Big Grin

Just my two cents
Perhaps, but wouldn't england and Scotland, as well as parts of Germany be a bit cold for them as well? Perhaps it was money issues? But that never stopped them from rediculous ventures into the east, so who knows? I'm naturally assuming they took one look at the Irish and ran as far away as they could, as everybody knows that the Irish are the greatest people who ever existed, second being the Scots. That statement is in no way, shape or form related or biased to the fact I am of full Irish decent..... :roll:
Quote: Perhaps it was money issues? But that never stopped them from rediculous ventures into the east, so who knows?
Oh, I assume it was money issues. Meaning the Romans, having occupied West britain (now Wales) and most of the lowlands (now Scotland), they (rightly) assumed that any occupation of that island to the west would not bring much profit. I think they realised that the Irish could not aquire enough gold coin to fit into the Roman tax system.
The East was, in comparison, unmeasurably rich, which was always, through history, enough reason to attempt conquest there..

Quote: I'm naturally assuming they took one look at the Irish and ran as far away as they could, as everybody knows that the Irish are the greatest people who ever existed, second being the Scots. That statement is in no way, shape or form related or biased to the fact I am of full Irish decent..... :roll:
Muwahahahahaha :lol:
You know I don't know why I didn't think of it that way. As much as I love her, Ireland has few natural resources that the romans would find attractive. Unless they wanted lots of stone...plenty of that to go around and then some.
Thank you for the very interesting insights, and possibilities to ponder. Warner's work is very thought provokiing.

Did Caesar/Rome find Britain profitable, do you think, or was it just that the Romans wished to conquer the far corners of the world?

It does seem probable to me that curiosity, if nothing else, may have taken them to Ireland.
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