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Scottish vs Irish: What’s The Difference?

In many western movies and tv shows often are mentioned and the unique identities of both Scots and Irish. This topic is so frequently mentioned that it became a global myth and point of interest for many people. Differences and similarities are often pointed out, but with that came many cardinal mistakes.

So what are the differences between Scots and Irish? First, they are living in different countries, speaking the same language but with slight variations, and they have different customs. Also, there is the question of religion, whereas most of the Irish are Roman Catholics, while less than half of Scots are Christians of any denunciation.

But can you define the differences between the two nations in a few lines? Of course not. There is the question of culture, religion, sports, and other life-defining aspects that we should explain and define. Stay with me and you will learn all you need to know about these two proud full nations.

Differences Between Scottish and Irish

Scotts Irish
Language English and Scott Gaelic English and Irish Gaelic
Religion Protestant Catholic Christian
Currency Pound Sterling Euro
National drink Whiskey Beer


You must have heard some strange-sounding language when listening to both Scotts and Irish talk. That is their language called Gaelic. Primarily it was used in Ireland, but at some point, it spread out to Scotland.

It can be connected with the Celtic roots of these people. Celt’s stronghold was placed in Ireland, and a lot of their customs remained, and with it their language.

In Ireland the main language in use is English, but the Gaelic language is still frequently heard, especially in the west part of the country. Scots also predominantly use the English language, but in the north, a lot of people are using Gaelic.

What is interesting is that both English and Gaelic are used with their unique characteristics in these states. Scotts and Irish both developed their unique variants of English and Gaelic.

Type Of Government

In the past, both Ireland and Scotland were part of the United Kingdom. England ventured into the parts of Scotland in the long past, but they are parts of the same country from the beginning of the 18. century.

On the other hand, Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom but gained its independence in 1921. Six counties in the northeastern part of Ireland are still part of Great Britain, under the name Northern Ireland. This split impacted several factors, but the religious factor was a major one. Ireland, unlike England, has a majority of Catholic Christians, while in England and Northern Ireland the majority are Protestants.

There are strong voices in Scotland that are proposing independence from Great Britain. The latest referendum was in 2014. but it failed. Probably there will be other chances for Scotland to gain their independence and join Ireland in their independent government.


Another big difference between these two nations is the question of religion. In Scotland, just above 50% of the people consider themselves Christians. The Church of Scotland, a church of Protestant denomination, gathers the largest part of the Christians in Scotland – around 33%, while there are nearly 16% of believers gathered around the Catholic Church.

In Ireland, more than 80% of the population considers themselves believers. Most of that number falls on the Catholic Christians, which count at near 78%. Orthodox Christianity is on the rise, thanks to immigration, and it gathers around 1.5% of the believers.

These numbers show one of the biggest differences between Ireland and Scotland. Ireland has significantly larger numbers of believers. Also, the denominations are different – the Irish are gathered around the Catholic Church, while the Scotts are mostly Protestant.

One thing is for sure – in both nations, there is a steep decline in the number of Christians. Other faiths show the increase in numbers, impacted by immigration.


Ireland, a part of the EU has a significantly different economy compared to Scotland.

Ireland was struck by a nationwide famine in the mid 19th century and that period left long-term consequences. It was hard living in not-so-good relations next to such a superpower like Great Britain, but a disastrous famine was more than enough to keep Ireland struggling for some time.

Ireland always wanted to gain independence and that was a big problem in relations with Great Britain. They finally became independent in 1921. and could start building their own country.

Ireland quickly became a part of the EU and started using Euro as its currency. Now they have a very dynamic economy because of the modernization of the whole administration that had the vision to change things.

Innovative technologies became paramount and they were welcomed leading to a high-tech industry today. IT and telecommunication sectors are booming, and start-up techs are very popular in Ireland. Besides that, Ireland is keeping their agriculture production modern and highly developed.

Scotland on the other hand after World War 2 had a highly developed heavy industry, complemented by natural resources such as oil and gas. Fishery, textile, alcohol, and lumber industries were also very important sectors. As time passed by, heavy industry declined in favor of IT and banking. The fishing industry remained important together with the production of whiskey and textile.

Scotland as a part of the United Kingdom, left the EU when Brexit occurred. They are using pound sterling like the rest of the UK. Now with limited connection with the EU market, developing the economy became harder. Many tariffs were imposed which made the trade harder and less profitable.


Since their paths crossed so many times thorough history, they developed some shared customs. Being so proud of their roots and history, they developed and kept some unique customs that they kept reserved for themselves.

A kilt is a shared traditional dress worn both by Scotts and Irish. This custom is kept stronger in Scotland, where it is still used as a part of regular formal attire. In Ireland, a kilt is a rare clothing element, and it is used mostly on formal occasions and as part of marching band uniforms.

Since both of these nations are friendly and love to socialize, they visit bars and taverns often. And where is the tavern, there is alcohol. Scotts are famous for their whiskey, while in Ireland the favorite beverage is beer. Scottland is home to many famous whiskey brands, while the trademark of Ireland is their Guinness beer.

Throughout its history, Ireland was the home of storytelling. That gave them many world-famous writers, and among them, four were awarded the highest honors, such as the Nobel prize.

Scotts were driven by inventing and without this nation so much stuff would never be invented or would be working differently. Amongst them are the steam engine, pneumatic tire, iron hull ships, the telephone, television, and many more.

FAQ  About Irish and Scotts

Do Irish and Scotts get along?

Yes, but not always. They share their battle for independence. Irish won in that battle, while Scotts are still fighting. They share their animosity and distrust toward the English. In the past, there were a lot of problems between the Irish and Scotts, that were based mostly on religious differences.

At the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of Irish went to search for their luck in Scotland and were met with bigotry because of the Roman Catholic alignment. Scotts were true Protestants, and they didn`t welcome new Catholic neighbors. But there were a lot of things that kept them together, starting with the same language – Gaelic.

Their language had the same root, only with differences incorporated by these two nations. And what has kept them together till today is their mentality and characteristics. They are both charming, good-spirited, and welcoming people.

Are Scotts and Irish the same?

Try asking them this question. Comedy on the side, there is a lot of discussion about this topic. Both of these nations share some elements of their culture and customs. Their language shares the same roots. Even their characters are similar. But they have a different history, views on religion, and different paths as nations, so they are different. That doesn`t and should not keep them from having good and friendly relations.

There is often confusion about them because they share some of the physical features. They both have unique red hair and bright white skin. Blue-colored eyes are also one of the common attributes for both of these nations.


Scotts and Irish are both well-known nations and we learned a lot about them through commercial entertainment and art. But when we learn about someone through tv, movie, and music, we may end up with some misinformation.

I tried to use only facts and to explain these two nations without any prejudice or favoritism. I think that that is the only way you can learn the real truth about any topic. Learning about nations is never an easy task, and using real and unbiased information is essential. I hope that I helped you in grasping some new knowledge about this sometimes controversial topic.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.