Difference Between Scottish and Irish

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 31, 2023


Difference Between Scottish and Irish

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Planet Earth is divided into inhabited continents, and within these hemispheres, there are various nations where people reside. These nations are separated by boundaries, and individuals may be distinguished by their language, clothing, appearance, and other factors influenced by the country's climate. Apart from countries, there are also islands, which are parcels of land surrounded by the sea. Islands can either be self-contained communities or part of a larger country. Since most territories are well-connected through transportation, residents often travel, leading to genetic variations.

Cultural differences, languages, rituals, and practices are observed worldwide; however, some nations share commonalities due to their proximity, while others have a high level of internal diversity. Some nations have similar origins, but their commonalities become apparent due to historical conquests.

Scottish vs Irish

The fundamental difference between Scottish and Irish people is that the Scottish are part of the United Kingdom, while the Irish are an independent nation. In addition to geopolitical variations, there are several contrasts between the two.

The bagpipe, a droning and loud musical instrument that produces both harmonies and melodies, originated in Scotland. Ireland has a medieval bagpipe, but it is smaller and less prominent compared to its Scottish counterpart. The harp is Ireland's distinctive musical instrument and is featured on the flag of Ireland. Scotland is also known for its traditional dish, haggis, which is a type of sausage made from sheep's intestines, oats, and minced beef. Ireland is more famous for its beer, especially the world-renowned Guinness stout, as well as hearty soups and bakeries. Interestingly, both countries produce distinct whiskeys, with the name derived from Gaelic; however, in Scotland, it is spelled "whisky."

Religion also significantly separates the two countries. As of 2011, Ireland is predominantly Roman Catholic, with 84.7 percent of the population identifying as Roman Catholic. Northern Ireland is predominantly Protestant, which played a significant role in the division of the counties from the newly established Republic. In Scotland, however, only 54% of the population identifies as Christian of any denomination. Almost one-third are members of the Church of Scotland, a Protestant Christian community resulting from the Reformation, while only 14% are Roman Catholic.

The origins of Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic are similar. The Irish and Erse, referred to as "Gaelic" by the English invaders, were originally considered a lower class by the English. Despite the Anglo-Saxons expecting their language to die out, these individuals continued to speak Gaelic. The language underwent changes and nearly disappeared, but despite the obstacles, a few Irish people still spoke it. Today, around 60,000 Irish individuals can speak Gaelic fluently.

Both Ireland and Scotland were once part of the British Empire, but the majority of Ireland gained independence in 1921. The Republic of Ireland consists of six northern counties that remain part of the Union, while the rest of the territory and population form the sovereign nation of Ireland. Scotland, on the other hand, is fully integrated into the United Kingdom. The English invasion took place during the Middle Ages, and the two countries legally united in 1707. Scotland may follow Ireland in seeking independence pending the outcome of a nationwide vote on leaving the United Kingdom.

Difference Between Scottish and Irish in Tabular Form 

Pointers of ComparisonScottishIrish
Definition mentionedIndividuals or anything really associated with Scotland.Individuals or anything associated with Ireland.
Part of the countryUnited KingdomEurope
Religion practicedRoman Catholics make up about 14% of the population.Europe has 87 percent Roman Catholics.
Language usedGaelic (Scottish)Gaelic (Irish)
Food and drinkScotch and haggisAlcohol, flatbread, and soup

What actually is Scottish?

Scottish refers to people from Scotland or anything associated with Scotland. Scotland is a country in the United Kingdom. The immigrant identity of Scotland is often referred to as Scottish people. Scotland is a wonderful country known for many things such as the kind Scottish people, whiskey, Scottish knitwear, the Islands of Scotland, the mountains, haggis, their cuisine, and so on. The origins of the Scottish people can be traced back to the ninth century when the union of Picts and Gaels (two Celtic-speaking groups) resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Scotland.

Gaelic is a language spoken by Gaels; Scottish Gaelic spread in Scotland from the fourth century. However, it gradually lost its position as Scotland's mother tongue. Scotland has 54% Christians, with a significant portion belonging to the Church of Scotland, and 14% are Roman Catholic. Although Christianity was introduced later, it is believed that the Picts practiced a form of Gaelic polytheism prior to Christianity (a combination of druidism, paganism, and other sects).

Scottish food is well-known around the globe; haggis (a dish made with sheep's organs) is a staple food of Scots, and it is often served with potatoes, whiskey, and turnips. Whisky is the most famous alcoholic beverage in Scottish society and is popular in Scotland. The bagpipe is Scotland's most renowned musical instrument, and it is an integral part of Scottish tradition.


Scotland is located in the northern half of the island of Great Britain. It is surrounded by England, the Atlantic Ocean, and the North Sea.

Geographically, the country is divided into three regions: lowland areas, upland territories, and offshore islands.

The lowland areas are primarily composed of farmland and forests, while the uplands are known for their mountainous terrain with deep lakes.

The country has a coastline dotted with numerous islands. It covers an area of 77,910 sq.km.

What actually is Irish?

Irish refers to people from Ireland and things associated with Ireland. Ireland is a European nation and an island. Scottish and Irish accents may appear similar at times, but they are not the same.

One of the most noticeable differences between the Scots and the Irish is the variation in language. The Gaelic spoken in Ireland is known as Irish; although the origins of both Scottish and Irish Gaelic are believed to be the same, they are distinct from each other. The speakers of these languages do not understand each other, and their grammar, pronunciation, etc., are all unique.

The Irish race is known as the Milesian race as it is believed that the Irish are descendants of people who migrated from Spain. It is thought that they arrived in Ireland before Christ. Ireland was invaded multiple times before gaining independence from the British Empire in 1921.

Irish people can be recognized by their physical attributes, including a pronounced round jawline, pale skin tone, oval features with high cheeks, blond hair, and brown or red tresses, which are common physical traits of Irish people.

Irish culture is known for its rich history, the warmth and charm of its people, River dancing, Irish food and drinks, landscapes, songs, etc. However, one of the distinctive features of the Irish is the religion they practice. Roman Catholics make up around 87% of the population in Ireland, while evangelical Christians account for the remaining 7%.


Ireland is the second-largest island nation in Europe. It is located on the country's extreme northwest edge and consists of the islands of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland refers to the whole island, which covers the majority of its geographical area. Northern Ireland is a constituent nation of the United Kingdom, meaning it is physically connected to, but constitutionally independent from, the Republic.

Main Differences Between Scottish and Irish in Points

  • Scottish refers to the Scottish people or something associated with Scotland, while Irish applies to the people of Ireland or something associated with Ireland.
  • Scotland is a nation that is part of Britain, whereas Ireland is an autonomous state and an island in Europe.
  • People in Scotland speak Scottish Gaelic, whereas people in Ireland speak Irish Gaelic. Their origins are thought to be the same, but variations emerged later.
  • Scotland has roughly 14% of the Roman Catholic population, whereas Ireland has about 90% of the Roman Catholic population.
  • Scotland is known for its whisky and haggis, while Ireland is known for its stew, soup, and whisky.
  • Scottish classical bagpipe sound is more well-known than Irish traditional music.
  • There are several distinctions between the Scots and the Irish. Some of these characteristics include differences in their people, language, history, cuisine, and customs.
  • Both civilizations have made lasting contributions to classical civilizations and are worthy of the epithet "great" civilizations. However, Scotland and Ireland have not achieved the same level of prominence as other great nations such as England and Germany.
  • The "English" mentioned here is their own language. It is one of the country's most extraordinary dialects, representing its deep culture and rich history. It is ancient but still alive. So, what is this language? It is Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
  • Gaelic is an adjective that means "belonging to the Gaels" and refers to their native language. Gaelic, as a term, encompasses a group of languages spoken by the Gaels. The Gaels were speakers of Goidelic Celtic languages. Although Goidelic dialect originated in Ireland, it quickly spread to Scotland.
  • Scottish Gaelic is still actively spoken in the far north of Scotland. Its origins are not fully understood, but it gained prominence in the 4th century when the ancient province of Ulster merged with Western Scotland. It was also popularized in the vernacular of the Scottish religion. Pronunciation records indicate that Gaelic was used in the Rhinns of Galloway by the 6th century.
  • Gaelic became known as Scottish in the 15th century. However, as the Highland-Lowland divide developed, Gaelic gradually lost its status as Scotland's native language.
  • On the other hand, Irish Gaelic is now commonly spoken throughout the western half of Ireland. In fact, there are many advertisements and tourist directions in Ireland that are printed in both English and Gaelic.
  • It was introduced to them by the powerful and conquering Celtic people. However, in the 8th century A.D., Ireland became a target of Viking invasions, which brought about a new set of linguistic influences. As a result, the grammar and phonological aspects of Scottish and Irish Gaelic cultures differ significantly.
  • The origins of Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic are the same. The English invaders initially referred to the Irish or Erse as Gaelic and considered them to be of lower status. Despite the Anglo-Saxons expecting their language to die out, these people continued to speak Gaelic. The language has evolved and nearly disappeared, but against all odds, a few Irish individuals still speak Gaelic fluently, with around 60,000 Irish people able to do so today.


Scottish and Irish are two unique entities that are closely interconnected; both cultures share a common ancestry, yet differences have emerged over time due to various historical events and influences. The welcoming nature and hospitality of the Scots and Irish, along with their distinctive culinary and beverage traditions, are globally recognized.


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"Difference Between Scottish and Irish." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 14 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-scottish-and-irish-1211>.

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