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Mountsandel in Coleraine in the north of Ireland is the oldest known site of settlement, with remains of woven huts, stone tools, and food such as berries and hazelnuts being discovered there by archaeologists.
The picture after that is very uncertain, but it seems most likely that several small waves of settlers arrived at various subsequent stages.
During the sixth century, Saint Columba followed in the footsteps of the earlier Irish raiders to spread the Celtic Church into Dl Riata (now western Scotland), while in western Wales the Disi settled and helped to form the kingdom of Dyfed.
Ireland was never politically united enough to translate its religious and cultural influence into political power.
The last holdout may have been the Fir Domnann (the Dumnonii Men), possibly one of several British tribes who saw fragments of their number move to Ireland.
Coverage here of the Irish tribes therefore is a snapshot, figuratively taken by Ptolemy.
There were some signs that unity would eventually have come, however.
At various points in its early medieval history, from the eighth or ninth centuries onwards, Ireland was nominally united under the high kings (ard ri) and, but for many incursions by Danes, Normans and the Norman-dominated English, Ireland might have developed into a fully unified single kingdom in the same way as England had in the tenth century.
Thanks to that, and isolated from the chaos that swept Britain during the Anglo-Saxon invasion, Ireland was able to develop its own rich and prominent Christian culture.
At some point after about 500 BC, there were certainly arrivals by Indo-European Celts (and perhaps even as early as 2000 BC), and they remained fully independent as Ireland was never conquered by the Romans.
Instead the Celto-Irish helped to hasten the end of Roman control over Britain by constantly raiding the British coastline, capturing slaves and booty.
The most striking feature of pre-Ptolemy Ireland are legends of the island being divided in half between north and south.
Post-Ptolemy, the four or five kingdoms with which we are familiar began to appear (Connacht, Laigin, Mide, Munster, and Ulaid), but each of these kingdoms were composed of multiple tribes.Claudius Ptolemy in his work Geographia recorded the tribes of Ireland some time in the second century AD.