To begin, we will travel back to The Bronze Age (1200 BC) where Celtic tribes began migrating across Europe, forming the first nations of many European countries today (1). For example, the Lusitanians (originally holding a Celtic name, before being renamed ‘Lusitanians’ by the Romans in the Iron Ages), a Celtic tribe, settled in Central Portugal, and later in the Northern Portuguese regions of Douro, Minho, Trás-os-Montes and Beira Alta (1). To support this, recent genetic research has revealed that there are strong similarities between the Y chromosome haplotypes from males of North-Western Portugal and Spain, with the Irish men with Gaelic surnames (1).
Many, many years later, the paths of the Portuguese and Irish continued to intertwine. During the Counter-Reformation (a movement by the Roman Catholic Church in attempt to strengthen and protect the Church against Protestantism), thirty-five Irish colleges opened up across Europe (2). These colleges were places where Catholic Irishmen would study, since they were prohibited from doing so in Ireland (2). The colleges were run by clergymen, and eventually came to be quite prestigious (2). The Irish college in Lisbon survived the earthquake in 1755, along with many other monumental occurrences down the line (2).
1. Arith Härger. “Irish and Portuguese — Genetic Similarity”. Wight of the Nine Worlds. https:// whispersofyggdrasil.blogspot.ca/2014/01/irish-and-portuguese-genetic-similarity.html
2. Ita Marguet. “Ireland and Portugal: A Shared History”. The Irish Emigrant. April 8, 2010. http://emigrant.scoilpac.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=77285&Itemid=17