Having been to Ireland a few times, I knew the Irish to be some of the nicest, friendliest and kindest folks on the planet.
I love these people.
But this trip was taking me to Scotland.
Then onto England.
And I was also visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.
Would the “Northerners” be different from those who lived in the Republic of Ireland?
Let’s start with the familiar.
Oh how I love the accent. All of the them!
Yes you’ll find different accents abound in Ireland.
Some you can understand. And some — not so much!
Even Irish folks from outside of Kerry will tell you they can’t understand the Kerry accent.
The Irish are known world-wide to be truly kind-hearted.
They’re wonderful people.
And many do have that gift of gab.
They tell the best stories.
But don’t believe every word. They do tend to exaggerate a bit.
Most of them can sing or play an instrument — or both.
I have such wonderful conversations with these people.
About anything and everything.
And with any kind of Irish person.
My waiter at the restaurant.
The taxi driver.
The owner of the B&B.
Some Irish person I ran into on a trail.
I love the Irish.
Truly I do.
But I was leaving Ireland and heading to Scotland.
What would I think of the Irish’s Celtic cousins, the Scots?
The Scots are gregarious like the Irish.
And like the Irish, there are some Scottish people I can’t understand.
Like the first encounter I had in Scotland — with my taxi driver.
Their accent tends to be one I struggle understanding.
But I was sensing that gift of gab in the Scots — that gift of telling a story just like their cousins across the sea.
And the more Scots I met, the more I liked them.
I do love the accent.
But it was more difficult to understand many of them.
Like my friend from the West Highland Way, Andy.
I told him I had to find the buoy to raise it to call the ferry to come get me to take me across the lake so I could get to my hotel.
He said, “We need to get this word right. Boy.”
“Like a little boy?” I asked.
“It’s buoy. Not a little boy.”
“Boy,” he said as he smiled at me.
They like to disregard letters. Like the French.
Who was I kidding. Americans don’t pronounce all the letters either.
But he was teasing me and I was teasing him.
The Scots have a quirky sense of humor.
And I found that I really liked it.
This is a difference with their Irish cousins.
The quirky sense of humor.
I was finding the Scots to be just as kind-hearted as the Irish.
Warm, friendly and eager to chat with you.
And when the lady at the market in Gairloch said, “Oh, so let’s just put that on your wee card,” as I was using my credit card to pay?
I think I fell in love.
The use of the word “wee” by the Scots (and some Northern Irish) melts my heart.
The Scots definitely use the word for little or small.
But they also use it in cases like the wonderfully, kind woman in Gairloch — for the hell of it!
I found myself talking about having a “wee dram” or a “wee spot of tea.”
Or doing a “wee bit of work.”
Gosh. I miss hearing that.
The Scots quickly won my heart.
But I was heading south which meant I was going into English territory.
Now I have a friend who is married to an Englishman.
Nice guy. Not overly warm and fuzzy. But nice.
And I’ve met other English folks in my travels and at home.
They’re known to be a bit more reserved.
Especially compared to the Irish or the Scots.
But I would say that I also met some English who were very warm and friendly.
My friend, Phil, also someone I met on the West Highland Way, is definitely a friendly and outgoing sort.
He was more Scottish or Irish in my mind than English.
And these 3 guys who I also met on the West Highland Way?
Super nice. Friendly. Kind. Funny.
And I really like the English.
I had some wonderful conversations with my B&B owners.
Lucy at Manor Farm was driving me all over during my week there. We chatted about all kinds of things.
And her hospitality was amazing.
Steve at Cathedral View in Salisbury had to be one of my favs.
So warm and welcoming and eager to share information about the area.
Simon and Andrea at No. 21 in York gave me a loaf of gluten-free bread for my upcoming self catering stay.
How nice is that?
So really, the English are kind.
But there was just something missing.
At least for me.
Don’t get me wrong.
I really like them.
But the Irish and the Scots?
Well they just have a certain extra something.
And whatever it is, I’ve fallen in love with it.
What about the Northern Ireland folks?
They’re a tricky bunch to figure out.
Some I felt were more English.
Some I thought were more Irish.
When I was in County Donegal I met a lot of them there as many own holiday homes in the area around Dunfanaghy.
I met one guy in Patsy Dan’s Pub the first night I was there.
He was an ass!
Then a week later, I met 2 ladies at the Singing Pub over on Rosguill Peninsula and they were lovely.
During my few days actually staying in Northern Ireland, it was also a mixed bag.
Bob, my host at Whitepark House, was lovely.
But more English than Irish.
There was a reserved quality about him.
The girl at the jewelry shop in Ballycastle?
She was more Irish.
So the review on the folks from the “North” is mixed.
I don’t like to pick favorites but I will.
I love the Irish.
And I always will.
Just thinking of these folks makes my heart smile.
They bought me pints.
They wanted to know about my travel plans.
And they wanted to know about my life.
And I, in turn, wanted to know about theirs.
They are genuine.
They are kind.
And they have big hearts.
But I also fell in love with the Scots.
And while I don’t have as much experience with them, I know that will change.
I’ll go back to Scotland.
And I have no doubt that I’ll feel the same about them as I do their Irish cousins.
There must be something about those Celtic people that I’m drawn to…