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Anglo-Celtic people are those of British and Irish descent.[1] The concept is mainly relevant outside of Great Britain and Ireland, particularly in Australia but also in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and South Africa, where a significant diaspora is located.

The term is a combination of the combining form Anglo- and the adjective Celtic. Anglo-, meaning English [2] is derived from the Angles, a Germanic people that settled in Britain (mainly England) in the middle of the first millennium. The name England (Old English: Engla land or Ængla land) originates from these people.[3] Celtic,[4] in this context, refers to the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and Cornwall.

Recorded usage dates as far back to at least the mid-19th century. A newspaper of the name, The Anglo-Celt (pronounced in this case as 'Anglo-Selt'), was founded in County Cavan in Ireland in 1846. In an 1869 publication, the term was contrasted with Anglo-Saxon as a more appropriate term for people of British and Irish descent worldwide:

"Anglo-Saxon," as applied to the modern British people, and Britannic race, I believe every impartial scholar will agree with me in thinking a gross misnomer. For if it can be shown that there is a large Celtic element even in the population of England itself, still more unquestionable is this, not only with regard to the populations the British Isles generally, but also with reference to the English-speaking peoples of America and Australasia. Even the English are rather Anglo-Celts than Anglo Saxons; and still more certainly is Anglo-Celtic a more accurate term than Anglo-Saxon, not only for that British nationality which includes the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh; but also for that Britannic race, chief elements in the formation of which have been Welsh, Scottish, and Irish immigrants.[5]

The term lends itself to the term Anglo-Celtic Isles, an alternative term for the British Isles.[6] Use in this term can be seen in a 1914 Irish unionist ballad:

The United Anglo-Celtic Isles
Will e'er be blessed by Freedoms smiles
No tyrant can our homes subdue
While Britons to the Celts are true.
The false may clamour to betray
The brave will still uphold our sway
The triple-sacred flag as yet
Supreme, its sun shall never set
— Southern Unionist Ballad (Ennis Unionist, 1914)

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Anglo-Celt /aŋɡləʊˈkɛlt/ noun a person of British or Irish descent (used chiefly outside Britain and Ireland). 
  2. ^ "Anglo-". Retrieved 5 June 2013. /ˈaŋgləʊ/ combiningForm English: anglophone; of English origin: Anglo-Saxon; English and ...: Anglo-Latin; British and ...: Anglo-Indian Origin: modern Latin, from Latin Anglus 'English' 
  3. ^ The Monarchy of England: Volume I – The Beginnings by David Starkey (extract at Channel 4 programme 'Monarchy')
  4. ^ Celt, /kɛlt, sɛlt/ noun a native of any of the modern nations or regions in which Celtic languages are (or were until recently) spoken; a person of Irish, Highland Scottish, Manx, Welsh, or Cornish descent. 
  5. ^ John S. Stuart-Glennie (1869), Arthurian localities: their historical origin, chief country and Fingalian Relations, Endinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, p. 115 
  6. ^ Celtic League (1995), "The British Isles", Carn (Celtic League), Volumes 88-95: 20, One commonly suggested alternative [to the British Isles] is "The Anglo-Celtic Isles". The "Anglo" and "Celtic" parts are usually understood to be separate from each other. This is a hairsplitting distinction. In practice it would be easy to argue that if Ireland, Mann and Great Britain are Anglo-Celtic Isles their peoples must be Anglo-Celts. This is just another way of saying they are British. The obvious answer is to choose a neutral geographical term that can be understood world-wide as referring to these islands. That rules out vague terms like 'The Atlantic Isles' or 'The European Isles'. ' The North Atlantic Isles' sounds like Newfoundland or Greenland to North American ears, and 'The North Europe Isles' excludes Iceland. We are drawn inevitable to 'The West European Isles' as the simple statement of geographical fact. This is why I believe there is no co-incidence that the Irish and the Manx choose it. 
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