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What is Ireland?

18 March 2017
satellite image of Ireland and Great Britain

 

Hey, everyone. This is your host, Katrina, coming to you from beautiful and historic Cork, Ireland. You’re listening to People of the Isles, a podcast about people living in and connected to Ireland and the rest of the British Isles.

Before we start the season, I figured I should define what is meant when someone says “Ireland.” I’ve encountered many people – including Europeans; it’s not just North Americans! – who don’t know the difference between Britain and Ireland. Or between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Or even Scotland and Ireland.

“…well, Irish, Scottish, it’s the same thing.”

“Oh, they’re the same, are they? Have a look at the map! There’s Ireland, there’s Scotland, there’s the bloody Irish Sea! They’re different! Now get out!”

(Clip from Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Victoria Jackson and Mike Myers.)

 

Are the differences geographical, cultural, political, or all three?

For folks who appreciate visual aids – I know I do – CGP Grey has an excellent and humorous video on YouTube titled The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained. For those of you listening while walking, doing the dishes, or driving, I’ll give a brief explanation. (Yes, if you are driving, please don’t watch the video!)

The British Isles is a geographical description incorporating Great Britain, Ireland, and, according to Wikipedia, over six thousand smaller islands. The two largest landmasses are Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain comprises Scotland, England, and Wales, while Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Politically speaking, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, along with Scotland, England, and Wales, while the Republic of Ireland is an entirely separate, sovereign nation.

Most of the time when I say “Ireland,” I am referring to the Republic of Ireland. Or, in Irish, Poblacht na hÉireann.

Fun fact: [ding sound effect] although the Irish language is a form of Gaelic, in Ireland it is simply referred to as Irish. I have yet to hear an Irish person call it Gaelic, though I’ve heard plenty of non-Irish people do so.

Now, with all that being said, it’s important to recognise that knowing geography only scrapes the surface of what Ireland really is. There are thousands of years of history leading up to present day life on the Emerald Isle. There’s climate, religion, music, wildlife, mythology, food… and let us not forget the very important subject of this podcast: the people.

I’ll be talking to Irish people from the Republic and the north, Brits, Europeans, North Americans, Aussies, people from Africa and Asia, and anywhere a connection to this part of the world is found. Speaking of which, there will be lots of different accents heard here, some of them quite pronounced. If you ever have trouble understanding what’s being said, never fear! There will be transcripts on the website. (Which is, handily enough, peopleoftheisles.com.)

Until then, see you down at the local!

 


 

Creative Commons License
People of the Isles: What is Ireland?
by Katrina T. Stovold is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at https://peopleoftheisles.com/what-is-ireland/.

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