Comparison of Ireland and Scotland

Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 08:20 AM
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Comparison of Ireland and Scotland

My family spent a month in Scotland, and LOVED it. Much of our time was in the Western Isles (thanks to the good advice of Sheila and some others on this site!), but we also visited Edinburgh (loved it), Stirling, Peebles, Inverness, Drymen, etc. From anyone who has traveled in Ireland and Scotland both, can you tell me how similar they are in terms of feel? I know, of course, that there are significant differences, and am not looking for a history lesson. I also realize that this is a rather vague question. But would love to hear your responses.
CindyW is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Hi Cindy: I really like your question! I traveled throughout both places quite extensively, and, like you, I absolutely fell in love with Scotland. Both places had a very "poetic" feel to them (yes, I've had one too many lit classes!) but for slightly different reasons.

I would say that a FEW parts of Ireland reminded me of Scotland with regard to terrain, but (surprisingly) not as much as I thought it would. In Scotland I noticed the lochs and mountains, whereas in Ireland I noticed the impact and influence of the sea a lot more.

Actually, the "feeling" of both places was quite different to me. My family heritage is Scottish and Irish, so I paid attention to how I felt in both places. When I got to Scotland I felt like I was "home" (if that makes any sense!). It was so dramatic and breathtaking that I just fell head-over-heels (I actually cried in the train station when I had to leave Edinburgh). What struck me were the extreme contrasts - the striking differences in light (especially the further north I went), the dreamlike castle ruins, the dark lochs, soft images of purple heather - it was hauntingly beautiful.

When I went to Ireland, I was actually surprised that I didn't feel as if that was "home" too. I had imagined that I would feel similar to how I felt in Scotland, but I didn't. But I still liked Ireland very much. The countryside was quite beautiful, but a slightly different kind of beautiful. The quaint and picturesque little seaside villages, the music in warm and atmospheric little pubs on rainy nights spent near the Cliffs of Moher, the mist from seaside - that's what I loved the most in Ireland.

Aside from the terrain, the locals in both Ireland and Scotland are by far the friendliest people that I've ever met. Genuine hospitality and a great sense of humor were qualities that I found in people in both countries. I felt very welcome.
Magellan_5 is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 10:13 AM
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>Comparison of Ireland and Scotland<

One has whiskEy and the other has whisky.

ira is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 03:09 PM
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Hey Magellan, what a great answer! And what a great description of how I, too, felt in Scotland. We went to Edinburgh last, and the whole month, everyone would ask us our itinerary, and when we'd get to the Edinburgh part, they'd say, "Ah, Edinburgh," like they were disappointed or something. So we weren't expecting much. Then when we got there, I felt like I was in a Dickens novel. It was the most incredible city! I didn't cry, but I can fully understand why you did! Your summary of Scotland is great, and strikes a real chord with me. I would have expected Ireland to be similar in terms of terrain--interesting to hear your report! Thanks! Thanks, also, Ira, for your extremely enlightening report! Whisky, huh?
CindyW is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 06:42 PM
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some thoughts off the top of my head... We only stayed in Edinburgh in Scotland but did some day trips out to Inverness, Stirling, Loch Lomond. Loved Scotland. I am of Irish and Scottish ancestry also. Scotland seemed a bit more "rugged" to me. I think the feel of Ireland was changing a bit since the intro of the euro. I think the way of life has been changing there. Possibly someone else might have more insight on that.
Ireland seemed a bit more open, green, not as formidable as my experience of Scotland. In Ireland we only got as far north as Clifden. We enjoyed the Cliffs of Mohr immensely. Dublin was great. Kilkenny and Jerpoint Abbey good too. Kylemore Abbey picturesque of course. Everywhere we went the people were friendly and helpful. In Dublin we made friends with the tour guides of a tour we took one night. We went to a pub afterwards and bought a round. Geez, after that we couldn't buy a drink the rest of the night. We got back to the hotel at 4am!
Ireland - happy, laid back, friendly and wistful.
Scotland - funny, clever, hearty and loyal
Lauricelli is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 08:31 PM
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I agree with most of what's been posted. I have to say that I like both, but preferred Scotland.

Scotland was much more rugged. I also felt there was more in the way of castles, hiking, etc.

The biggest difference, however was in the quality of the lodging. We mostly stayed in B&B's and they were far better in Scotland. I believe this is the result of tax laws in Ireland that were designed to encourage tourism in Ireland. As a result, everyone started B&B's in Ireland... even though not everyone wanted to be an innkeeper. While we did find good ones in Ireland, they were consistently better in Scotland.
astein12 is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 03:22 AM
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I too prefer Scotland over Ireland although will definately go back to Ireland. Part of reason was Ireland was in March and Scotland in June.....
I think we perhaps had unrealistic expectations of Ireland and Dublin in particular which I didn't like much. The scenery is very different in each and Scotland's more stunning in many ways. We loved Edinburgh and found all people in Scotland more friendly than British or Irish. But the Irish are funny - when they want to be! If it weren't for the weather Scotland would be an almost perfect place to me.
eliza3 is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 05:13 AM
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I enjoy visiting Ireland - and have several friends there. But Scotland is my favorite place on Earth. Dublin vs Edinburgh - no contest. I am done w/ Dublin after a few days, whereas Edinburgh is still fascinating after many visits.

I do enjoy the pubs/music in Ireland - a lot.

Some of the coastal scenery in SW/W/NW Ireland is truly amazing. But overall, there is more amazing and glorious scenery all over Scotland.

To me, even though a lot of NW/N Scotland is very remote, to me the travel is easier and the roads more open/easier to navigate.

I am from California and places like Yosemite Valley, Big Sur, San Francisco and the northern Redwoods are w/i a reasonable drive. So it takes a lot for scenery to impress me. Skye, St Abbs Head, the fishing villages of Fife, the amazing castles, the outer Islands, white sand beaches on Mull or in the far NW - and on and on and on.

I'm a really "left brain" type, pragmatic and not into anything mystic (not Shirley MacLaine-ish at all ) - yet when I step foot on Scottish soil, I feel I've lived there before.

janisj is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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janisj, I get the same feelings in Scotland. But I get them in Ireland, too. Perhaps it helps to have the heritage (I do, too) but I don't feel the same draw to Germany, and I'm over half German in ancestry.

I've been to both, and am taking my second trip to Scotland next summer. I've been to Ireland thrice. I agree with all the above - Ireland is soft, sort of a gentler, aged version, while Scotland is more rugged, still making mountains, still rough around the edges. That's part of the charm! The scenery is amazing on both. I would compare the Isle of Skye with the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland - both are incredible and breathtaking. Not the same, but both similar in the sense of awe it brings you.

The people are mixed Scots-Irish for the most part, with Anglo mixed in as well. They are all friendly and welcoming beyond what I had encountered in the US. The food in Ireland has changed over the 10 years since I've been visiting, probably the influence of the EU.

I felt homey, comfortable and excited to be in Ireland. In Scotland I felt adventurous and wild.
GreenDragon is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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Oh, and when do we get a trip report? I'm anxious to see all the places you went! Especially as I'll be visiting the western isles primarily on my visit next June
GreenDragon is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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We are in the midst of planning our trip (which has been moved to Spring, 2009 due to family issues - yes we do plan ahead). Your lovely descriptions have really heightened the anticipation. I look forward to comparing the two!
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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Great question, one that my family and I have discussed many times. We have visited both countries and loved them both. We spent two weeks in Scotland earlier this year and I got a feeling of kinship in Scotland. My families' genealogical research says that we have English roots, but I am convinced there is Scot blood in there somewhere. Heh.
My wife's family has many ties to Scotland and it was an emotional visit for her. We loved Ireland, but Scotland is calling us back. At some point, we will return.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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Thanks for all the great replies! It sounds like you have had common feelings and experiences. I don't know if I'll be able to work out a trip to Ireland, but it will be helpful to know to expect it to be significantly different from Scotland.

GreenDragon, you will LOVE the Western Isles. I went in 2004, and am almost sure that I did a trip report, but can't find it. I'll keep looking.
CindyW is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Just got back from Scotland last week and really loved it. My husband and I both commented that the all the people we encountered were just about the nicest we have ever met in our travels. In our B&B, restaurants, and sights everyone was incredibly pleasant, helpful and genuinely friendly and happy we were there. Edinburgh is a gorgeous place, and we got a taste of the incredible Highlands. Didn't hurt that the weather was crisp and clear (almost a little cold, but great). Terrific trip.
Rachele is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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The two countries are utterly different in practically every respect you can imagine. I really struggle to think of any two other places, linked by a common language, that differ so much. Only rainfall, and irritation with the English, link them. Actually, not even irritation with the English: I've twice been involved with Irish divisions of businesses being run by the Scots, and each time the Irish wanted to go back to being run from London.

Ireland is soft, undulatingly flat (yes I know that sounds Irish), obsessed with words (we speak better English than anyone. and a lot more of it), averse to cut and dry distinctions, and warm (though wet). Scotland is none of those things. It's colder, harsher - and a great deal better organised.

Though I think Ireland's wonderful, I find most of its countryside (unlike Scotland's) dull: inland simply the same rolling fields as all of lowland Britain. Ireland's glory is its coastline and seascapes - not dissimilar to most Celtic coasts, and possibly the scenery closest to its Scots equivalent.

You've asked to avoid a history lesson. In the case of these two countries - more than almost anywhere else on earth - you can't. Both define themselves by their history - though sadly both countries' educational systems have taught similarly fatuous accounts of their history, based on spurious grievances rather than real data. But Scotland has a history as a nation, with proper records, serious evidence, an independent government and diplomats. Ireland went from being a tribal society recorded by bards to what's now regarded as foreign occupation without a period of real independence as a modern state.

Scotland almost invented modern learning in its golden half century after the union of the parliaments, and then invented most of modern engineering and medicine: Ireland's contribution to the world - at any rate since it preserved Western monasticism in the Dark Ages - has been almost entirely limited to the achievevements of the Irish outside Ireland. There are actually two similar - but astonishingly different - books about this (both by Americans): How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Hernan, and How the Irish Saved Civilization (though he means civilisation of course), by Thomas Cahill.

Ultimately, IMHO, Scotland is stuffed with things to see, though its people really weren't at the front of the queue when God handed out social graces. Ireland's a very great deal less gifted with things to see: time in Ireland is always best spent listening to, singing with, arguing against, debating with or frankly doing anything it's remotely possible to do with, its people. And if you can't do that, just make sure your radio's set to any chat show or phone in on Radio Eireann.

I'd say time in Ireland beats time in Scotland into a cocked hat. But the Scots might disagree.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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Ditto, ditto -- mostly to what Magellan said. If anything, maybe the Irish are friendlier. However, we were there on 9/11 which may have made a difference. I think maybe it takes more days to see all of Scotland AND there are more very nice boutique hotels.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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actually, ditto ditto mostly to what flanner stated. Sadly, I'm not well versed enough on Scotland and I've been to Ireland quite a few times. That said, if you are going purely for scenery, Scotland will win this battle most times. On the other hand, I've never had a hard time engaing folks in Irelnad in conversation which is odd, because I rarely try. It just seems to happen.

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Old Oct 13th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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I am so glad I read the whole thread - great postings. My husband and I will have 8 days each in Ireland and Scotland. Since I am not quite sure where to begin, having all this good info helped tremendously. Thanks, gang!
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