"The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa)."
Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland condensed into the same place. The Loch Ness Monster
, shamrocks, threatening people with shillelaghsnote
, potatoes, haggis
, plaid (actual plaid, or tartan), kilts
, clans, castles, caber tossing
, and a lot
of angry drunk people
This is the only other part of the British Isles that's not London
. In fact, the Republic of Ireland isn't politically part of Britain
, but if Hollywood can't get geography
right then politics don't stand a chance. Wales sometimes gets lumped in as well, the few times it's featured outside of UK media. This trope is probably helped by the fact that the Scottish and Irish are both Celtic in origin, and have enough in common culturally to be distinguished from the Germanic Anglos
without having a similarly clear distinction between themselves.
Also not to be confused with the American ethnic term 'Scots-Irish'
for people who are, um, both and neither all at once
The prevalence of this trope in American media is probably due to the fact that, to untrained U.S. ears, Scottish and Irish accents sound remarkably similar. This trope does not exist in Canadian media, however, as the Irish and the Scots are seen as completely distinct races. It's said that the longer an Irishman lives in Canada the more Canadian he gets, but the longer a Scotsman lives in Canada the more Scots he gets. Some Scotsmen have lived in Canada for so long that their accent has become completely indecipherable.
It's worth noting that there is a long history of cultural exchange between Ireland and Scotland, to the point that Scots-Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are considered mutually intelligible languages, and a good chunk of the Northern Irish
population is descended from Scottish "planters", so the trope is somewhat rooted in fact, albeit much more loosely than their near-total conflation in modern media would seem to imply.
Compare Britain Is Only London
, Ancient Grome
, and Mayincatec
. See also Violent Glaswegian
, Fighting Irish
, Bonnie Scotland
. Oddly, Scottish actors and actresses have a disproportionate tendency to be cast as Irish characters
. Whether this is a side effect of this trope or whether it actually helps enforce it is anyone's guess.
open/close all folders
Adaptations and other cross-media examples
- Wolfsbane from X-Men is supposed to be Scottish, but her accent and culture switch back and forth between Irish and Scottish. Moira McTaggart has this same problem, to the point that her accent is often indistinguishable from that of her Irish boyfriend Banshee.
- Silver Banshee from Superman is literally from Scotireland; when the writers realised they'd based a Scottish character on Irish mythology, they claimed Siobhan McDougal was actually from a fictional island in the Straits of Moyle. Surprisingly the DC New 52 version of Silver Banshee drops the Scottish connection entirely and retcons Siobhan as coming from Dublin.
- Played for Laughs in The Boys, where one of the X-Men knockoffs asks Wee Hughie how they celebrate Saint Patricks Day back home, under the impression he's Irish. Hughie starts trying to explain before noticing the guy is drunk off his ass (and wouldn't have noticed either way).
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, B.A. Felton sometimes uses a character named 'Red Gurdy Pickens' in his campaigns. The character is sometimes described as being Irish, but the accent B.A. uses has been noted as sounding far closer to Scottish...
- In a meta sense, The Untouchables, where Sean Connery plays an Irish cop using his real accent, and it's never addressed. This is, however, rather common for Connery.
- In Finding Forrester, at the end Forrester (Sean Connery) tells his young friend Jamal that he's going back to his homeland.
Jamal: You mean Ireland?
Forrester: Scotland, for God's sake...
Jamal: (laughs) I'm just messing with you, man.
- In the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie, the Scottish villain has programmed his missile to respond to commands in "Celtic".
- In The Crying Game Northern Irish terrorist Fergus initially tells Londoner Dil that he is Scottish, and Dil appears to believe him. Possibly justified in that London has a wide variety of accents and Dil, being young and perhaps inexperienced, might not have known the difference.
- 25th Hour and The Departed are particularly bad as both feature Irish-American storylines yet include rousing renditions of 'Scotland the Brave'.
- Lampshaded in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games when one of the ULA bad guys comments to himself how the staff at the American airport he landed in couldn't tell the difference between a Scottish burr and an Irish brogue.
- Loosely autobiographical McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthynote (an Englishman who inexplicably feels that he ought to be Irish) has a scene with stereotypical truck-sized American tourist couple in a faux-Irish pub. After a hearty meal, the husband is puffing on a large cigar and ordering another shot of "this great Irish Scotch".
Live Action TV
- Highlander: The Series frequently featured Scottish characters (played, in the main, by Canadians) with horrendous Oirish accents..
- Spoofed in a series of early-'90s Saturday Night Live sketches, in which Mike Myers is the foul-tempered proprietor of a shop called All Things Scottish ("If it's not Scottish, it's crap!"). Hapless customers would frequently make the mistake of asking for shillelaghs and whatnot, leading to Myers exploding, pointing to a map ("There's Scotland! There's Ireland! And there's the bloody sea!") and ordering them to Get Out. This skit and character were later incorporated into Myers' movie So I Married an Axe Murderer as the protagonist's father.
- A 1983 SCTV sketch featured Dave Thomas as an angry Scottish cooking-show host, using the same catchphrase as the Myers SNL sketch ("If it's not Scottish, it's crap!").
- In Smallville, a gang prepares to rob Lex Luthor as their final heist because their ability to phase through solid objects is fading. One of the crooks makes a crack about how they'd be able to build a money silo like "that Irish duck" and is corrected (since Scrooge is in fact Scottish) by one of the other crooks with a surprisingly good rendition of both accents.
- In an episode of Black Books some American tourists refer to Bernard, (who is Irish) as a "Scotchman".
- Craig Ferguson, the Scottish-born host of CBS' The Late Late Show, once remarked on a St. Patrick's Day episode that "I'm not Irish, but everybody thinks I am."
- In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and George end up sharing a limousine with a couple of Neo-Nazis. Jerry pretends to be Irish, reminiscing about things such as "the peat, ah, the peat". However, his accent comes across as Scottish to one of the Nazis, to which Jerry replies: "We were living around the border". Jerry's attempt ends with him saying, "Scotland, Ireland? What's the difference, lassie?"
- Lampshaded in Heroes, when Elle goes into a pub in Ireland:
Elle: I've never been in Irish pub before! Do you have haggis?
Ricky: That's Scotland, love.
- In one episode of LOST, Sawyer refers to Desmond as 'the magic leprechaun', even though Desmond is actually Scottish.
- In Supernatural Crowley was a Scottish human before he was an English demon (it gets worse), and the other demons call him Lucky the Leprechaun behind his back.
Bobby: MacLeod's Scottish, Einstein.
- Even in Star Trek Scotty's accent tended to wander not just through every region of Scotland, but across the Irish sea too. Lampshaded by several Scottish stand-up comedians over the years who always joke about wondering which part of Ireland Scotty was from.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Sub Rosa", Dr. Crusher attends the funeral of her grandmother on a planet that's supposed to be settled by Space Scotsmen, but their accents are hardly Scottish.
- Sons of Anarchy: Chibs is referred to as a Scot and played by Scottish actor Tommy Flanagan, but apparently was raised in Belfast. This would be less jarring had Flanagan had even a hint of a Northern Irish accent, but he plays Chibs with his thick-as-mud Glaswegian tones on full blast.
- Dead Like Me takes it up a notch by mixing in all but Wales; when reaping the soul of an Irishman living in America, he sees heaven as a vision of his home, which is the sound of Scottish bagpipes and the English cliffs of Dover.
- Scottish bagpipes play a Mixolydian mode scale, while Irish bagpipes play a full two octaves. This means that it's easier to write melodic sounding "Scottish bagpipe" music using Irish bagpipes. Braveheart, for example, used Irish bagpipes on the soundtrack.
- NPR's long running show The Thistle and Shamrock showcases music from Ireland and Scotland, taking its name from the two nations' symbols. To the untrained ear (ie: most people) there is no discernible difference between the two styles. Host Fiona Ritchie has a lovely authentic accent, as well.
- Countless "Irish" punk bands use Scottish tunes or pipes in their music, or intersperse a traditional Scottish song with Irish Gaelic.
- The Celtic harp, famous in Irish (and Irish diaspora, particularly American) iconography, is thought to have originated in Scotland.
- A bit of commentary in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 has something to this effect - Coach refers to the oh-so-very Irish Finlay as English. When called on it by way of Michael Cole listing all of the extremely Irish things about him, Coach indicates that he knows the difference between English and Scottish.
- The introduction of the Merida face character at the Disney Theme Parks sparked a minor controversy when many of the actresses couldn't get the accent right and sounded more Irish than Scottish.
- Inverted in Legally Blonde: The Musical, in the song "Ireland". Paulette dreams of meeting an Irish man and living in Ireland, and confuses Scottish and Irish culture- which Elle (and the audience) find funny.
- Valkyria Chronicles features a recruitable sniper with the very Irish name Catherine O'Hara. While it's never stated that she's from the game's alternate universe versions of Ireland or Scotland, her accent veers dramatically between the two whenever she speaks.
- The succubus Morrigan Aensland of Darkstalkers fame was discovered as an infant by her adoptive father Belial in Scotland and her D.O.B. (1678 A.D.) coincides with the first appearance of a succubus in Scotland, but her name and some of her character quirks are taken from a deity in Irish mythology. With the exception of the 90s cartoon, the dub of the Night Warriors/Vampire Hunter OVA, and the recent Marvel vs. Capcom 3, her English voice actresses also tend to give Morrigan an American accent, not a Scottish one. By a technicality, this would make her "younger sister" Lilith also qualify for this trope.
- Parodied in Toonstruck: The bartender in Cutopia is a head of green cheese, shaped like a shamrock, wearing a tam-o-shanter and a kilt, whose accent alternates between Irish and Scottish every other line. Yes, that's right; he's half Irish, half Scottish. It's that kind of game.
- Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness in The Elder Scrolls series, has an Irish accent when calm, and a Scottish accent when excited.
- The Celtic civilization in Age of Empires II is a case of this. Units speak Irish Gaelic and the Celtic wonder is the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, but their unique unit is the Woad Raider, a unit based on the Picts of Ancient Scotland, and their civilization bonuses in siege, fast infantry and wood gathering are inspired by Medieval Scotland. Finally, the playable Celtic campaign deals with William Wallace's rebellion.
- TF2's first issue of Ring of Fired! reveals the Demoman's full name is Tavish Finnegan DeGroot. While Tavish is definitely Scottish, Finnegan is decidedly Irish. Then again, his family name is Dutch.
- The Celts in the Civilization games are (as the name implies) an amalgamation of various celtic cultures, but in the fifth game they embrace this trope further by shedding the Gauls from the equation and focusing on the British Isles (and Brittany), being led by Boudica with Edinburgh as their capital and Dublin as their second city.
- In Bowser's Kingdom episode 7, Hal and a Chomp Bro. fight in an event called "Shell Wrestling". Hal states that if he can beat a gorilla wearing a tie (Donkey Kong), then he can take down a German Turtle. The Chomp Bro. then reveals he's Austrian and punchs Hal off the stage. This example could be called Germaustria in this case.
- 1983: Doomsday has Ireland merge with Scotland after the collapse of the United Kingdom, creating the Celtic Alliance.
- Invoked with Dr. McNinja who is stated to be Irish despite the "Mc" prefix being more typically associated with Scots, though the author did point out that it's used with some Irish names too.
- Kim Possible has Duff Killigan who is Scottish in every way, save for his very Irish surname.
- Phineas and Ferb went ahead and made a character who was half-Scottish, half-Irish, presumably in an attempt to avert this trope, or perhaps a parody.
- One for the England vs. Wales aspect: The early-90s Hanna-Barbera cartoon Young Robin Hood featured an episode where Prince John had hatched yet another plan to steal the throne of England from his brother Richard. Said plot heavily involved the Duke of Wales. There has never been, in all of history, a Duke of Wales....because Wales is not and never has been a duchy. In fact, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, Wales was still ruled by its own native princes; it wouldn't be properly absorbed into the English crown's holdings until the reign of Edward I.
- Miner Smurf of The Smurfs is spoken of as having either an Irish or a Scottish accent, which isn't helped by the fact that his voice actor would also do Scrooge McDuck.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars presents us with the Lurmen, a race of ScotIrish sentient lemurs whose Actual Pacifist sentiments are rather a Shout-Out to the Irish peace process.
- The Adventures Of Portland Bill neatly dodged this one by never quite getting around to specifying which side of the Irish Sea it was set on. And as noted in Real Life below, there's been enough intermarrying and cross-colonisation over the centuries that the differences in accent are quite subtle.
- Numbuh 86 from Codename: Kids Next Door is meant to be Irish, but her accent sounds more Scottish.
- Coach John McGuirk is Irish, but he's a Scottish highland dancer instead of an Irish dancer because he's "not gay."
- This definitely can count as a Justified Trope in some cases. There has been quite a bit of cultural exchange between Scotland and Ireland, especially recently. At the beginning of the 20th century, Irish Republicans adopted the kilt as a sign of Celtic solidarity and identity in their struggle for independence from the UK. And Northern Irish Unionists occasionally display the St Andrew's Cross to celebrate their Scottish heritage.
- This Overheard in the Office quote:
Receptionist: How was Ireland?
Office manager: Actually, I was in Scotland.
Receptionist: That's not the same place?
- In a 2010 interview for Irish televison Katy Perry seemed under the impression the Loch Ness Monster lives in Ireland. Perhaps they confused a each uisge with a peist.
- In July 2011 James O'Keefe released a heavily edited video of himself pretending to be an IRA member applying for medicaid for his Irish friends, while wearing a Scottish tartan and sporran.
- The Scots and Irish are not only both Celtic, but they are also both Gaelic, as is the Isle of Man. Thus, Highland Scottish and Irish culture and language are very similar, with the Gaels originating in Ireland. The other (extant) group of Celts are the Brythonics, who inhabit Wales, Brittany and Cornwall.
- Scotland actually derives its English name from what the Romans originally called it; Scotia Minor with Ireland then being known as Scotia Major. This Trope was relatively true right up into the middle ages, where the scholars spoke a common language and there was a rather blurred border between the two, with Robert the Bruce even trying to unite them into a common kingdom. However as the reformation and contact with the English took hold differently in both nations, the two cultures have long since diverged.
- The historical kingdom of Dįl Riata was a literal Scotireland.
- Both exemplified and averted in the case of rugby union. Since 2001, Scotland and Ireland have shared a top-level professional league, now known as Pro12note , with fellow Celtic nation Wales. Averted in 2010 when two teams from Italy joined the league.