What percentage of Irish were "slaves" over the past millennium?

Over the past one thousand years were a significant percentage of Irish taken as slaves?

  • Zero to ten percent of the Irish of the past thousand years were probably "slaves"

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Eleven to twenty percent of the Irish of the past thousand years were likely "slaves"

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Twenty one to thirty percent of the Irish of the past thousand years were likely "slaves."

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Perhaps even more than thirty percent of the Irish of the past millennia were treated like slaves..

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

Dennis Tate

My dad's ancestors were mostly from Northern Ireland and before that Scotland.

My mom's ancestors mostly came from southern Ireland.

I have the impression that my dad's ancestors did not treat my mom's ancestors very well by 2021 standards.

I like the way that this article takes the topic back to the time of the Vikings to set the foundation for this idea.


Slavery in Ireland only really hit its height with the arrival of the Vikings. This warlike foreign force was fond of their thralls, slaves they took from the people they raided and conquered. Dublin served as a significant hub for the sale of Gaelic slaves both domestically and internationally. Such slaves were so prolific throughout the Norse world that a significant proportion of Scandinavian DNA can be traced back to Irish slaves. This goes especially for Iceland, where the DNA of the average resident is around 30% Gaelic.

To say the life of a thrall was brutal would be a massive understatement. Both physical and psychological abuse was common for these slaves. In fact, it appears that, upon their master’s death, thralls were often ritually sacrificed in order to follow their master into the afterlife.

Arab explorer and theologian Ibn Fadlan describes one such sacrifice in gruesome detail, writing that a female slave was raped by multiple men, stabbed, and finally throttled, before burning with her master and the rest of his grave goods. While such 3rd party accounts of indigenous traditions should always be looked upon with a certain degree of skepticism, the archeological record strongly supports Ibn Fadlan’s account. It is rather common to find beheaded bodies alongside sans any grave goods alongside the remains of an important Viking.

However, perhaps the plight of the thrall occurred too long ago for the ‘intellectuals’ in our society to actually count it as relevant to our discussion. If such is the case, then I will turn our attention towards the Barbary slave trade.

From the early 16th to late 18th century, Barbary corsairs were a near constant threat on European shorelines. These pirates primarily traded in slaves, capturing unsuspecting people in coastal villages and selling them in their base cities of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis. White slaves were of particular value to these pirates, with caucasian females often fetching far higher prices within the Ottoman trade compared to women of other backgrounds. Historians estimate that up to 1.25 million people of European descent were abducted and sold into slavery by these pirates.

The Sack of Baltimore in West Cork is perhaps the most famous of these Barbary raids. Led by famous Dutch Muslim convert and pirate, Murat Reis the Younger, Barbary pirates abducted the entire population of mostly Protestant settlers in a single night. As a result, Baltimore was abandoned until the 18th century.