Scottish and irish relationship

Anti-Irish hatred has no place in modern Scotland | Kevin McKenna | Opinion | The Guardian

scottish and irish relationship

There is a long and historical connection between Ireland and Scotland, stemming in major part from the fact that there has been high levels of immigration from. Kevin McKenna: Scotland still doesn't know quite what to make of the Irish relationship between Scotland and her Irish immigrant population. If you travel around Ireland and Scotland, you'll notice a similarity in some of the of climate and landscape, or having the same love-hate relationship with our.

Indeed, Mac Giolla Bhain, in an on-line piece for the Guardianonce took me to task for espousing such views. Nevertheless, Minority Reporter is a thoroughly well-researched and well-written book that is of vital importance in understanding this fraught relationship between Scotland and her Irish immigrant population. Indeed, it might also be said that the failure of any Scottish newspaper to review the book thus far is a symptom of the boil that the author seeks to lance.

Irish-Scottish Relations past, present and future - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

He cites The Famine Song with its infamous chorus: He also rails against Scotland's political classes for being dilatory in their response to this. Indeed, it was only after the matter was raised in the Irish parliament and Irish media that The Famine Song was deemed to be worthy of criminal prosecution.

And yet I wonder how Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King would have regarded ordeal by the singing of a dodgy song, they whose people had to endure lynchings, violence and hatred every day of their lives. Mac Giolla Bhain also cites the year ordeal of Neil LennonCeltic's Irish manager, in Scotland that, following several assaults and death threats, culminated in two men being jailed for trying to send a homemade bomb to him.

And, in a very poignant section, he laments the extent to which Scots of Irish lineage have been discouraged from celebrating their ethnicity while those of Italian and Asian descent, for instance, have not.

  • Why Scotland and Ireland Went Different Ways
  • Irish-Scottish Relations, past, present and future, Edinburgh's Festival of Ireland, 23 March 2017
  • Do The Scottish And Irish Share A Common Culture?

I am proud of my Irish heritage, but prouder still that I was born a Scot. Being Scottish defines me more than the country that my great-grandparents left at the start of the last century.

In the next century the universities of St.

Do The Scottish And Irish Share A Common Culture?

Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen were created adding a system of higher education to a separate legal system. In the period between the two World Wars, a Scottish Home rule movement was established and in the Scottish National Party was born, but it was only in the last thirty years that the appetite for political autonomy grew to the point where a devolved Parliament was created in and met for the first time the following year.

The drafters of the voting system for its election tried to ensure that no party would ever have an overall majority, though it was assumed that unionist parties would be dominant. It was a shock, therefore, when the SNP secured a clear overall majority in the Scottish general election, and it was not long before it agreed with London on a determinative referendum on the issue of complete independence.

A further aspect of Irish interest was due to the large scale immigration from there to Scotland that began in the eighteenth century and has continued intermittently even to the present.

With the near destruction of the Catholic Faith in the centuries following the Reformation the subsequent growth of the Scottish Church in the nineteenth and twentieth was due largely to immigrants, those from Italy, Poland and Lithuania supplementing the Irish population. Given this variation in party fortunes, a particularly bad argument in the recent referendum campaign was that if you wanted to avoid Conservative government you should vote for independence.

In the period before they came to power, no-one predicted the Westminster electoral triumphs of Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, or the Nationalist ones in the election for the Edinburgh parliament, and likewise no-one can say where Scottish politics might be in a decade or two.

First, there was a real doubt as to how an independent Scotland would stand.

scottish and irish relationship

Would it be able to use the pound? Without clear answers to these questions caution took precedence.

scottish and irish relationship

Beyond that there were doubts about the leadership and capacity of the Scottish Nationalists and of the other Scottish political parties; and there was also a dislike of the idea of separating Scotland from the rest of the U.

But back to When I arrived in Scotland, it occurred to me that although I had studied Irish history for most of my life, Scotland had never been a particular interest of mine. At that time, I had spent decades reading, writing and thinking about Anglo-Irish relations but rarely giving any thought to Scotland. I have learnt my lesson. I now refer to British-Irish relations and of course am very conscious also of an important Scottish-Irish dimension.

This neglect of Scotland was perhaps inevitable. After all, 19th century Irish history in which I had specialised was dominated by efforts to undo the Act of Union in which the scene of the action was in Ireland or at the Westminster Parliament where Daniel O'Connell campaigned for the repeal of the Act of Union during the s and Parnell and his allies pressed for Home Rule during the s.

There was not much scope for Scotland to make its appearance in the Irish story with its broadly nationalist narrative. Until recent decades, Scottish history was in a very different groove. In order to see how Scotland has fared in Irish historiography, I had a look at two major works on Ireland's history, looking at their references to Scotland.

Thomas Bartlett's single volume history of Ireland published in contains a number of references to Scotland, which is perhaps to be expected because when the book was published Bartlett was a Professor at the University of Aberdeen. Bartlett covers the monastic connection epitomised by St. This resulted in a Scottish army of 10, men under the command of Major-General Robert Munro being deployed in Ireland during the s. This era of upheaval, which included Cromwell's campaigns in Ireland and Scotland, did not come to an end until the s, by which time the Scottish presence in Ulster was well established.

In Bartlett's account, Scotland disappears from Irish history from the 18th century onwards although he does pick up an unusual vignette from the years of the Second World War when Ireland's Department of Agriculture astonishingly 'undertook to interview Irish girls in Dublin to ascertain their suitability for agricultural work in Scotland'.

There must be many in today's Scotland who can trace their roots to those who passed through that particular interview process.

scottish and irish relationship

FSL Lyons's classic modern history, Ireland since the Famine, published in also contains some references to Scotland. These include the impact of two Scottish brothers, William and John Ritchie who were instrumental in establishing the shipbuilding industry in Belfast. He refers to the phenomenon of post-Famine emigration and the establishment of Irish communities in Scotland where, he maintains, a virulent anti-British sentiment developed.

Those Irish emigrants were not always made welcome in the very different Scotland that existed in those days.


One of its leading lights, James Henderson, looked to stir up religious feeling in Scotland so as to aid Ulster unionists in their struggle against Home Rule. These are all essentially passing references and my conclusion would be that, at least in the period covered by Lyons's book, Scotland was a marginal factor in Irish history There is another way of gauging our historical links - through the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Of the 10, or so names that feature in the Dictionary, were born in Scotland. They are a diverse crew - soldiers, academics, writers, clergymen, engineers businessmen and sports figures. Some are famous like leader, James Connolly, but others are largely forgotten today. Here are some examples. John Arnott was born in Auchtermuchty in and moved to Ireland in the s. By the time he died in he had become one of Ireland's leading businessmen and philanthropists, owner of a chain of Department stores one of which is still trading today, Arnotts of Henry Street, Dublin.

George Clarke who came from Paisley became a leading Ulster unionist and shipbuilder whose business career illustrated the importance of the Liverpool-Glasgow-Belfast triangle 'in the industrial growth of late Victorian Belfast' which had 'political as well as economic implications' as the economic development of the northeastern counties created an urban business and working class community with a vested interest in the Union. A final example is John Jameson who moved from Clackmannanshire to Ireland in and in the process learned how to spell whiskey correctly!

Anti-Irish hatred has no place in modern Scotland

His name is being immortalised to this day on countless millions of Irish whiskey bottles sold all over the world. There are also some interesting entries on those Irish who ended their lives in Scotland, a number of early medieval monks, Kenneth McAlpin, the first King of the Picts and Scots, the Glasgow Celtic footballer, Patsy Gallagher, who began his life in a workhouse in County Donegal, and someone I got to know when I was posted in Scotland, the rugby international Des O'Brien who won the Grand Slam with Ireland in and went on to manage the Lions on their four-month tour of Australia and New Zealand in !

scottish and irish relationship

Des was a fine man who spent 45 years of his life in Scotland and was an active sportsman into his 80s. There were, I would say, two connected reasons behind this decision. First, the Good Friday Agreement altered the relationship between Britain and Ireland as co-guarantors of the agreement.

scottish and irish relationship

Even without the incentive of the Good Friday Agreement, I believe we would have wanted to respond to the changed status of Scotland as a devolved entity with a sharper more distinctive political profile. The BIC has taken on an enhanced relevance in light of last year's referendum result as a framework within which the various political entities on these islands can discuss matters of mutual interest. The 20 years since have seen Irish-Scottish relations enter into a whole new and entirely positive era.

The success of the NI peace process has removed a complicating factor from our relations. In the wake of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish Government took seriously the East-West strand to that agreement and thus decided to establish consulates in Edinburgh and Cardiff.