OK people, enough is enough already. Scotland and Ireland are two completely different countries. They are not even on the same island! While the Scottish and the Irish people both have a lot in common, they nevertheless are two distinct cultures, with their own unique traditions. For example, the kilt and the tartan are both "Scottish things" and not "Irish things."
I point out this quite obvious fact because apparently some people need to be reminded. Like the author of this article in the winter 2007 issue of Knitty. She writes, "In my family, we're all of Irish heritage, and we're VERY proud. In fact, my Dad is so proud he has two kilts that he wears on a regular basis." The article has a nice pattern for knitting a pair of kilt hose, but one has to ask, what on earth does wearing the kilt have to do with your dad's being Irish? (Let alone the fact that, in the picture accompanying the article, he's wearing what looks like a Utilikilt, which is neither Scottish nor Irish, but American).
I don't know if it is a world-wide phenomenon or just here in the States but people seem to think Ireland and Scotland are synonymous. I can't escape it. Sitting down the other night to an hour of mindless entertainment with one of my favorite shows, Psych, when one of the main characters, whose last name is O'Hara (about as Irish a name as you can think of) starts talking about all the traditional Scottish customs that her family observes at Christmas, including Hogmanay (which is New Years, but never mind the details).
Then just yesterday I was going through the drive-through of my favorite Scottish restaurant (McDonald's, of course!) in my kilt and Argyle jacket, when the teen who hands me my McMuffin gives me the thumbs up and yells "Hey, Irishman, alriiiiiight!" as I pull away.
So it is time for a geography lesson. I would draw you a map but I don't have to. Someone has graciously done it for me. Right click this link and open in a new window. Isn't that a great map? Thanks to the folks at EnchantedLearning.com. Now pay attention. Scotland is that northernmost part of the big island to the right (the part that says "Scotland" on it). Ireland, on the other hand, is that smaller island over to the left (the one that says, fittingly enough, "Ireland"). All that empty space in between -- that's water. Two separate land masses. Two separate countries.
While we are looking at a map of the British Isles, I want to point out another thing that may be obvious to some -- they are British! Britain and England are not synonymous. The big island to the right (the one that says "Scotland" on the top of it and "England" on the bottom) is Britain. This means that the English are British, but guess what? So are the Scots. And so are the Welsh. They are all British. So saying things like, "Oh, the Scots hate the British," really doesn't make much sense unless you are accusing the Scots of self-loathing.
Oh, we all know what you mean. When you say, "British" you mean "English." But that's wrong, so stop saying it. The Scots are British too, every bit as much as the English. And the country is called the United Kingdom, being made up of a union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland (Wales is a principality). Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. The rest of Ireland is not (again, refer to the map).
So, let's review. Britain is the whole big island, the northern part of which is Scotland and the southern part of which is England (and Wales). Britain and England are not the same thing. Ireland is that island off the west coast of Britain. Ireland and Scotland are not the same thing. Simple enough really, but make a flow chart if you have to.
There, now I feel better. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging...