Let’s raise a glass to our Scottish cousins: here are five reasons why Ireland and Scotland are Sister Nations.
Separated at their narrowest point by only 19 km (12 miles), Ireland and Scotland have links that go beyond geographic proximity.
Ireland and Scotland have shared a Celtic culture that spans back centuries. Here are just five reasons why Ireland and Scotland should be considered Sister Nations.
5. A shared history – standing strong through glory and tragedy
The historical links between Ireland and Scotland go back a long way.
In the early Middle Ages, the Irish Saint Columba set up a monastery on the Scottish island of Iona. Somewhat later, Scottish mercenary warriors known as Gallowglasses were employed by Irish chieftains and feared by anyone who came across them.
In the 17th century, thousands of Scots settled in Ulster, where they impacted the culture and even the accent. Irish immigrants also moved to Scotland in large numbers.
Ireland and Scotland also share some of the more tragic aspects of history. In the 19th century, the Highland Clearances dispossessed thousands of Scots and forced them to leave their homes.
In the same century, the Great Famine killed a million Irish and sent a million more across the sea to seek better lives. Millions of people worldwide can trace their descendants back to these tough Irish and Scottish survivors.
4. Language – a sense of understanding through our native tongues
If you travel around Ireland and Scotland, you’ll notice a similarity in some of our placenames. Places like Kilmarnock, Ballachulish, Drumore, and Carrickfergus might come from either country.
This is because there is a shared root between the native languages of Ireland (Irish) and the Scottish Highlands (Scots Gaelic). Both are part of the Goidelic family of languages, which come from the Celts who settled in both Ireland and Scotland.
Although the languages diverged from each other, they have enough similarities that a speaker of one might make a good guess at the other.
If you only learn one word, it should be sláinte, which is the same in both languages. It’s the equivalent of “cheers!”, pronounced ‘slawn-cha’ and meaning ‘to your health’.
3. Landscapes – some of the most stunning sights in the world
It would be impossible to name all of Ireland’s stunningly scenic locations. The Ring of Kerry, the Wicklow Mountains, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, Achill Island, and Skellig Michael are but a few.
But Scotland also has its fair share of breathtaking vistas: picture Glencoe, Loch Ness, the Cairngorms, Eilean Donan, Orkney, and the Isle of Skye.
Ireland has the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, a 2500 km (1553 mile) driving route along its west coast. Meanwhile, Scotland has the ‘North Coast 500’, their answer to Route 66.
Both are composed of twisting roads, sometimes single-track, and often hair-raising. But both trips around Ireland and Scotland will reward you with some of the most beautiful locations in the world.
2. Whisk(e)y – a long tradition in both Ireland and Scotland
Whatever way you spell it, the ‘juice of the barley’ has a long tradition in both Ireland and Scotland. Whiskey (with an e) was probably first distilled by Irish monks.
Old Bushmills in County Antrim was granted the first ever distillery license in 1608, although many an unlicensed still was producing poitín for a long time after that. Today, Irish whiskey brands such as Jameson and Tullamore Dew are known worldwide.
The oldest mention of Scotch whisky (without an e) is from 1495, when King James IV gave an order to Lindores Abbey for 1500 bottles of the stuff.
Distillation, both legal and illegal, continued to grow in the following centuries. Today Scotland boasts over 80 distilleries — eight of these on the tiny island of Islay!
Scotch has a ‘smokier’ taste and Irish whiskey a ‘smoother’ taste. But which is better? Well, you’ll have to try both so you can judge for yourself.
1. Attitude – charm and hospitality in abundance
The Scottish and the Irish share a certain attitude to life that is, let’s say, special. Maybe it’s because of the shared history and culture, or the similarities of climate and landscape. But the national characteristics are undoubtedly sympathetic to each other.
So what is that attitude? At the risk of generalizing, you’ll find that neither the Irish nor the Scots take life too seriously. They share a dry and occasionally dark sense of humour.
Both Ireland and Scotland are known for their friendly dispositions. They will charm visitors from near and wide with friendliness and hospitality. You’ll know you’re really accepted when they start ‘slagging’ (making fun of) you.