Clients sometimes ask Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland whether they should travel to Ireland or Scotland, and what would be the major distinctions between the two?
Vagabond owner/founder Rob Rankin says, albeit with a dollop of blarney, the first question needs to be dismissed as a minor first-world-only dilemma as both represent popular vacation destinations. But what facts might be important to holiday planning travelers when considering the differences between a visit to Ireland vs Scotland?
These questions set Rankin to thinking about just what is different between the Emerald Isle, where he and his wife, Amy Rankin, maintain their small group tour company, and that landscape across the Irish Sea where he was born.
“We think it’s a question that needs serious consideration and good advice to ensure that travelers make the right decision and come to Ireland. There is no doubt that Scotland is nice enough, but Ireland is totally awesome!” says Rankin.
When asked to defend himself, Rankin turned to the experts, “ourselves,” to approach the problem scientifically and analytically, whilst leaving national pride to one side.
In coming to his earth-shattering-conclusions, Rankin notes, “Firstly we have to admit that Scotland and Ireland share some great features that make them both world-class tourist destinations. For example: the friendly Scottish and really, really friendly Irish people, the fascinating histories, the Celtic heritage and the beautiful scenery.” So, on what criteria does Ireland win out over Scotland?
- The Food: Delicious, hearty Irish stew versus Scotland’s deep-fried mars bars. Enough said on that one.
- Beer & Libations: While Scotland’s beer is a worthy by-product of the cattle-feed manufacturing process, nothing compares to the iconic and wonderful Guinness! And Guinness really does taste a million times better in Ireland, so that settles it. “You need to come to Ireland for a pint of Guinness.” (Although one would have to admit Scottish whiskey is a thorn in the side of this argument, Irish whiskey is storming back onto the world stage with numerous high-quality whiskeys maturing from dynamic new Irish distilleries).
- Mountains: Who doesn’t like to look at mountains? But the argument could be made that Scotland has too many that are too big and they tend to block out the view. On the other hand, Ireland’s mountains could be described as right out of the storybook, Goldilocks. They are not too big and not too small but just right for a scenic and active Irish vacation.
- Music: Much as everyone loves Scotland’s Bay City Rollers and the Proclaimers, it’s hard to beat Van Morrison, U2, Thin Lizzy, The Cranberries, Snow Patrol and the likes. Another clear Irish winner.
- Mythical Creatures: Ireland has lucky Leprechauns and pots of gold; Scotland has ferocious Haggis running clockwise around the mountains and scary sea monsters in its lochs.
- Famous People: Ireland boasts Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy and Colin Farrell with their sexy Irish accents; Scotland has Shrek.
- Saints: Ireland’s Patron Saint (Patrick) was a party animal and is loved and celebrated around the world. He banished snakes, converted pagans and adopted the Shamrock as the national plant of Ireland. Scotland’s St Andrew is a patron saint of gout and sore throats (but these conditions are not necessarily Scotland’s alone).
- Pubs: The Irish Pub, not the Scottish pub, is the international quality standard for bars. If there were a Nobel Prize awarded for the best pub (which Vagabond thinks there should be), then Irish pubs would win every year.
- Craic: Unique to Ireland is living – and doing what you like -- in the moment. “Craic” (pronounced “crack”) is an Irish term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Scotland does have over thirty terms for inebriation.
- Vagabond and Driftwood Tours: Only Ireland has them!
Editor’s note: All the foregoing was written by a Scotsman. But, the other 80% of his family are Irish, and just like St. Patrick, Vagabond’s staff are working on his conversion.
“And,” concludes Rankin, “if you would like further information on Ireland and our amazing tours please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected].“
For details on all of Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and 2018 reservations, please visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/. Call toll free (from the US) 1-833-230-0288; in Ireland 00353 (0) 1 5634358; or email: [email protected] or [email protected].
About Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland
Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named the “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification and in 2018, Vagabond Tours won The Green Tourism & Entertainment category in Ireland’s most prestigious Green (business) Awards.