Although kilts are traditionally associated with Scotland, they are also long-established in Irish culture.
Kilts are worn in both Scotland and Ireland as a symbol of pride and a celebration of their Celtic heritage, yet each country’s kilt has many differences which we’ll explore in this post.
The original Scottish Kilt dates back to the 16th century where they once had practical appeal. Kilts were worn almost exclusively by soldiers in the beginning because of their thick wool, long lengths and open bodies that allowed for warmth and easy freedom of movement. There were no kilt factories back then, and each kilt was made carefully by hand with pride. Over time, they became a symbol of the heritage and culture of Scotland and began to be worn by everyone.
Many believed that the Lein-croich was the first version of the Irish kilt, however, this was a long tunic in block color and is not a traditional Irish kilt.
The Irish tartan was introduced as a symbol of Gaelic tradition during the rise of Irish nationalism and as a response to the ongoing anglicization of Ireland.
The traditional kilt which is associated with Ireland is the Saffron Kilt. The Saffron Kilt is mustard yellow in color, often with shamrock appliques down the pleat.
Saffron Kilts were first worn by the Irish military in the British Army during the twentieth century, and it’s the most widely worn kilt in Ireland today. Similarly, the Feileadh Mor was also worn by Scottish troops on the battlefield.
This is where the Scottish and Irish kilts differ the most, as the tartan in which the kilts are made have very different origins and meanings.
Scottish tartans are a representation of a Scottish clan, and each Scottish family has its own tartan, distinguished by their surname. There are over 25,000 registered Scottish tartans. Tartan has become the main symbol of Scotland and Scottish Culture. Tartan has also become an essential part of modern clothing and designer’s choice. Kilts were originally made by the pure wool,
now kilts are made in acrylic wool and other fabrics for easy maintenance and handling. It is an ideal kilt for casual occasions or even for sporting events.
However, Irish tartans are designed to represent the districts and counties of Ireland. For example, if you originated from Cork, you would wear a kilt made with the Cork County Tartan.