We are often asked what is the difference between a Scottish Kilt and an Irish Kilt. So, we thought we’d outline the differences in our Scottish Kilt vs Irish Kilt guide.
Scottish Kilt vs Irish Kilt – The Facts
We all know that kilts are associated and originate from Scotland, but they are also form a key part of Irish history. Kilts are worn during formal occasions in both country, and the kilt is worn to celebrate the Celtic heritage that both countries share with each other. When a Scottish or Irish person wears the kilt, they often do so out of pride for their country.
In order to examine the differences, let’s take a look back at the history of the kilt from both countries.
It is believed the Scottish kilt in Scotland originates from the 16th century. Back then, it was named the Feileadh Mor, rather than a kilt. It basically existed as an extended length of fabric, which was quite thick and was worn over the shoulder of the person, as well as being worn around the waist.
Why did this Feileadh Mor come about? Well, it is thought it was worn to protect the wearer from the harsh climate. For around 300 years, it wasn’t considered a symbolic garment of clothing for a Scottish person to wear. Interestingly enough, it became a symbol of Scottishness when in the year 1746, the government issued a blanket ban on people wearing the kilt, because they thought it would to an increase in the number of people revolting during the Jacobite Risings.
It wasn’t until the twilight of the 19th century that the kilt looked like what we know it looks like today.
Historians believe that the idea of the original Irish Kilt came from the Lein-Croich. But, it is important to note that this Lein-Croich isn’t classed as an Irish Kilt because it was worn like a tunic.
It is thought that the Irish national tartan that we know today became a symbol of Gaelic tradition when Irish Nationalism was at its peak. This was of course in response to what the people thought of was the progressive anglicisation of Ireland.
The traditional Irish kilt which is the Saffron Kilt. This doesn’t form a tartan or plaid design, and is typically a mustard yellow in color. It is common to find Shamrock appliques on the pleats of the kilt. It is believed these kilts were worn by the Irish Military in the 20th century, and it’s the most popular design of kilt worn by Irish people today.
Scottish Kilt vs Irish Kilt – The Difference is the Tartan
So, because the Saffron Kilt is the most popular Irish Kilt, the two kilts differ in terms of the tartan that they use. Each Scottish Kilt tartan that exists represents a Scottish Clan. Each Scottish family name has their own tartan or plaid design that is unique to their family name. As of 2017, there are around 25,000 different tartans in existence.
The Irish Kilt Tartans that do exist were made to represent the different Irish districts and counties. To provide you with an example, a person from Cork would most likely wear the Cork County Tartan.
Other Similarities & Differences Between the Scottish Kilt and the Irish Kilt
Despite the differences in terms of tartan, there are similarities to be seen. Here are some more Scottish Kilt vs Irish Kilt comparisons.
Scottish people wear their clan crests by pinning them onto the kilt. When a Scottish Wedding takes place, it is tradition for the clan crest to be pinned onto the spouses tartan to show that they have been accepted into the new family. Very symbolic! Irish people tend to wear a crest as well on the kilt, but it tends to be a Shamrock pin rather than a clan crest.
The Sporran is the most common accessory to be worn with the kilt. It is worn by both Scottish and Irish Kilts and is generally hung around the upper waist of the kilt wearer. The only real difference between a Scottish Sporran and an Irish Sporran is the clan crest may be included on a Scottish Sporran, and a Celtic symbol such as a Shamrock may be included on the Irish Sporran.
Depending on the occasion, Scottish and Irish Kilt wearers will often wear different kilt jackets.
For Scottish kilt wearers, they often wear a Prince Charlie Jacket during a formal occasion. You can tell that a kilt jacket is a Prince Charlie jacket by the lapels and tails of the jacket, as well as embellishments, which are commonly found on the sleeves and tails. It is recommended that a Prince Charlie Jacket should be worn with a waistcost, a wing collared shirt, with a bow tie.
For Irish kilt wearers, they often opt for a Brian Boru jacket for a formal occasion. The Brian Boru is like a Prince Charlie jacket, and is often worn in the same style with a Prince Charlie Jacket.
For informal occasions, you often find the Argyle Jacket being worn by a Scottish kilt wearer. These jackets tend to have ornate buttons found commonly on the flaps and cuffs. Rather than a wing collared shirt, it is usually worn with a standard shirt with a neck tie or bow tie.
For informal occasions, the Kilkenny Jacket is the Irish equivalent. The Kilkenny Jacket looks like a normalsuit jacket, but has ornate buttons on the front. A standard collar shirt is usually worn with a Kilkenny Jacket, with a matching waistcoat and necktie.
The Scottish Kilt wearer doesn’t usually wear a hat nowadays, but if they do, a Glengarry is the hat of choice.
We hope you’ve found our Scottish Kilt vs Irish Kilt guide useful.