Irish vs. Scottish vs. Welsh: Charming Accents

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Difference between Irish, Scottish and Welsh

The British Islands were once inhabited by two Celtic branches: the Gaelic and the Brythonic. Gaelics first settled in Irish, Scottish and Manx populations, while the Brythonic settled in Welsh and Cornish populations.

During the centuries, kings have tried to unify the territories, but this led to bloody wars due to the many differences which set them apart: language, religion and customs. The clans were also powerful enough to preserve the independence of their lands. Many died during the wars of forceful domination. Still today, people fight for the independence of Northern Ireland through violent means such as bombings and assassinations.



The Irish people are an ethnic group located on the island of Ireland. Their ancestral evidence dates back to about 9,000 years ago and they were of Nemedian, Fomorian and Milesian descent. The Irish were among the few European people to use surnames to identify their families. A distinctive Irish surname begins with an O as in O’Malley, O’Brien or O’Shea.

Scottish people are the ethnic group inhabiting Scotland. In the Middle Ages, many tribes settled in the area. They were Britons, Gaels and Picts. Later on Germanic people populated southeastern Scotland, while Nordic populations inhabited the north and west sides of the territory.

The Welsh people are the ethnic group populating Wales. Their origin can be traced back to the 4th century after the departure of Roman armies.


The Irish language is a Goidelic language pertaining to the Indo-European family. Around 80,000 people are native speakers today. Most Irish people use it as a second language.

Most Scottish people speak English, while minorities of the population use Lowland Scots which comprise many dialects and Gaelic.

The Welsh language is spoken fluently by about one out of five inhabitants, while 28% percent of the population declared it understands Welsh during the 2001 census.

Poetry and Literature

Irish poetry is one of the oldest forms of literature in Europe tracing its roots to the 6th century. Irish literature has been awarded the Nobel Prize several times with recipients including G.B. Shaw, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

Scottish literature is highly appreciated for the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and J.M. Barie amongst others.

Welsh literature stretches back to the early 6th century. Praise poetry dominated the Middle Ages. The first book written in Welsh was published in 1546. Others followed revealing a greater interest for religious concepts. Welsh literature of the 19th and 20th century influenced the rise of the Welsh language as a defining attribute of the nation’s identity.

Similarities and Differences

  • The Irish, Scottish and Welsh people are ethnic groups inhabiting Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Their origins can be traced back to many centuries ago.
  • Irish, Scottish and Welsh are second languages, most people use English as a first language.
  • Irish, Scottish and Welsh literatures have old roots and have given prominent figures.

Which nation has the most difficult language to understand?
  • Irish
  • Scottish
  • Welsh

Discuss It: comments 4

  • Guest
  • Guest wrote on January 2012

Error - you failed to mention that Scots Gaidhlig is also spoken in Scotland, particularly in the Hebrides. It is related to Irish Gaelic and the two languages were very similar to one another several hundred years ago when mutual exchange of culture and commerce between the Scottish highlands the Ireland were common.

There is no language called "Scottish" in Scotland. The 3 languages spoken here are Gaidhlig (Gaelic - or Scottish Gaelic - pronounced Gah-lik), Lowland Scots, and English (basically standard Enlgish with a Scots accent).

  • Guest
  • Guest wrote on April 2019

Welsh is not second language, it's spoken as a first language which makes English as the second language.

  • Guest
  • Linda wrote on March 2020

It was explained to me by locals that English is the first language spoken but that the government, through the schools, is reviving the historic languages - Welsh, gaelic - and that's why government-installed signage is in both languages.

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