There are many links between Ireland and Scotland and the two countries have developed a close relationship. In this article I’m going to explore the historical and cultural links that lie at it’s heart.
From earliest times the two countries, formed a single cultural, religious, linguistic and economic zone. The early Scots who came to Scotland from Ireland in the 5th and 6th centuries established the foundations for Irish – Scottish migrations, which continue to this day. Two of the most significant migrations were:
under the influence of the english who were keen to shore up their foothold in Ireland, over 200,000 scots emigrated to Ireland. In the second half of the nineteenth century there was a mass exodus from Ireland to England and Scotland as a result of poverty and famine. Irish labour helped Scottish industrialisation to take root rapidly. In major cultural achievements, too, each country affected the other profoundly. The Scottish Enlightenment, began in Ireland in the work of the philosopher Francis Hutcheson, who later moved to Glasgow and greatly influenced the work of David Hume and Adam Smith.
One of the key links between the two counties in the large Diaspora of each. Tens of millions of citizens with Scottish and Irish ancestry can be found across the globe in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are keen to engage on their Diasporas. This recently happened in Scotland, with the Scottish Tourist board calling on Scots living abroad to come home.
In Scotland today people of Irish decent are the single largest minority ethnic group, and there are a large number of Scots living in Ireland. The English ‘issue’ brought both countries together – the need to preserve their identity in the shadow of a powerful neighbouring culture. I will now take a look at some of the shared aspects of culture – traditional clothing, music and sport.
A commonality between the culture if the two countries in clearly shown in the wearing of the kilt – a clear link between the two nations is. Irish kilts are traditionally plain in either saffron of green, with Irish county tartans a more recent variation.
Sport is another areas that has links, interestingly the Irish-Scots were instrumental in the formation of Celtic Football Clubs Hibernian and Dundee United. Indeed, these teams were originally formed to provide recreational facilities for Irish immigrants.
Celtic music has a strong historical traditional in Scotland and Ireland with both using fiddles, bagpipes, whistles and bodhrans. Often, the term Celtic music is applied to the music of Ireland and Scotland however, it is notable that Irish and Scottish traditional musicians tend to point out the differences between the too.
Today the relationships between Ireland and Scotland continues to be shaped by the changes to the political dynamic brought about by devolution in Scotland, the Peace Process in Northern Ireland as well as the deeper integration into the European Union, which is and will remain Scotland and Ireland’s most significant economic relationship.