Spain and Ireland are two places that seem to have little in common. However, there are certain characteristics and similarities that these European countries share.
Starting with the most obvious, the landscapes. The north of Spain is characteristic for the number of forests, mountains, valleys, and rivers that form it. In general, its green and leafy landscapes are due to its Atlantic climate and its cold and rainy months. Therefore, if you like mild summers and rainy winters, Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria are the best regions to live in.
This climate extends throughout the north and northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Pyrenees to Galicia, and is characterized by the abundance of rains distributed regularly throughout the year and by its mild temperatures due to the proximity of the sea. In winter it ranges between 12°C and 15°C and in summer it is around 20°C to 25°C.
Continuing with these places, another similar characteristic that Spain and Ireland share is their traditional music. In Ireland, a type of bagpipe called the “Uilleann pipe” is played, while the Galician population also has its own type of bagpipe, called the Galician bagpipe (“gaita gallega”). Bagpipes are wind instruments that have been played in Galicia and neighboring regions of northern Portugal, Asturias and Cantabria since the Middle Ages and, to this day, can still be heard in cities such as Santiago de Compostela and at local cultural festivals.
In addition to the music that accompanies the festivities of these cities, cider is a very famous and typical drink from northern Spain. As in Ireland, Galicia and Asturias are two regions mostly known for their cider production. Unlike the Irish cider however, the northern Spanish cider is cloudy, not as sweet and is often not sparkling either. Galicia produces more than 80,000 tons of cider apples per year, making it the largest producer of cider apples in Spain. Although Galicia does produce a lot of its own cider, the majority of this alcoholic apple drink is produced in nearby Asturias and the Basque Country.
Betanzos, city in A Coruña, Galicia
Another similarity between these two countries is the Celtic culture. The area of Galicia, Asturias and northern Portugal claims its Celtic heritage and is considered one of the seven Celtic nations along with Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Wales and Brittany. This territory claims its heritage due to the abundant archaeological remains that show cultural connections with the Celtic peoples of the British Isles.
Some historians think that Galicia was founded by a Celtic tribe that settled in the area, called Gallaeci. And this is demonstrated by the large number of pallozas (traditional dwellings of the Serra dos Ancares of northwest Spain) or old round stone houses found in Galicia that date back 2,500 years and are considered to be of Celtic origin. To all this previous evidence, the existence of pagan festivals that are still celebrated today in Galicia and also the remains of ancient stone circles both in Ireland and in Spain could be added prove these theories.
“Dos Menhires” Park in A Coruña, next to the Tower of Hercules, pays homage to the Celtic culture of Galicia.
One last similarity that these areas share is the language. Galician, the official language of Galicia, has many differences from the Celtic languages and is more like a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. However, it still contains dozens of words with Celtic roots and this can be verified by listening to the Galician language, since its Celtic remains reside in the orality of the language.
Definitely, the north of Spain is one of the best destinations to get to know the Celtic culture and, in addition, the Spanish. A very rich and diverse place in terms of landscapes, gastronomy and culture.
Did you know all these aspects in common between the two countries?