Jack’s guest post comes a little early this week –
It’s not surprising that many bookstore customers, on hearing my accent ask where I’m from, and then talk of their own family connections back to Scotland or Ireland. This area of Southern Appalachia has strong ‘Scotch-Irish’ antecedents. Frequently these conversations will drift around to the difference between perceptions and the reality of Scotland from an American point of view. Most Americans have an image of Scotland derived from movies like ‘Braveheart’ or ‘Brigadoon’ (Vincent Minnelli famously toured Scotland looking for suitable places to make ‘Brigadoon’ but eventually made it in Hollywood because he couldn’t find anywhere in Scotland that looked ‘Scottish’ enough!).
These conversations will often move on to questions about the real Scotland and how it fits into the modern world and global economy. Of course perceptions aren’t helped by confusion over what Scotland actually is in relation to – The U.K., Great Britain, The British Isles or even ‘England’.
In case you, dear reader, also find that confusing – hold on tight, and here we go –
The British Isles is a geographic description that covers Great Britain and the complete island of Ireland.
Great Britain is the union of two nations – England/Wales and Scotland (Wales was never a separate nation, sadly – it’s a Principality of England).
The island of Ireland is split into the independent Republic of Ireland and the much smaller province of Northern Ireland.
Great Britain plus Northern Ireland makes up the U.K. (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to give it its full name).
Got all that?
Finally I will often mention that in September 2014 there will be a referendum in Scotland on the restoration of the country to independent status again. Supporters call it ‘independence’ while opponents call it ‘separation’ – ah! The power of words!!
Talking of words, Wendy and I recently saw this sign on Interstate 77 just north of the NC line. We thought some of our Scottish friends might see the significance –
Shurely shome shignificance (as Sir Sean Connery would Shurely Shay)