The people who lived on the British Isles two thousands of years ago were called the Celts. They originally came from northern Spain and western France and their culture can be traced back as far as the Bronze Age. These people learned to work with iron. They lived scattered on farms with high walls surrounding them. There were no urban centers and the economic basis of society was cattle rearing and agriculture. The Celts had no central political organization, but there were many big families, which they called „clans“, scattered all over the island. Sometimes the „clans“ consisted of up to five generations, and all of the farmhouses, cows, sheep, and fields belonged the „clan“. In the social life of the Celts the „druid“ was very important. He had the purpose of a priest, fortuneteller, and magician. Another important person was the poet or bard. As society was non-literate, their function was to pass on history as well was to entertain.
Wales is one of the four countries of the U.K. Wales is also the name given to the peninsula lying in the west of Great Britain, west of England. Wales is a country, where Celtic people have been living for centuries. A land of gentle beauty, a mysterious land of the poetry of bards – this is Wales. The capital of Wales is Cardiff and St. David is the patron saint of the country. Most people are bilingual. They speak both English and Welsh. The national instrument is the harp and the symbol is the daffodil. On the flag there is a dragon. Eisteddfod is the Welsh festival of music and dancing. Wales is sometimes called the land of castles. The first son of English kings holds the title of Prince of Wales.
Scotland is a country which lies in the north part of Great Britain. The biggest Scottish city is Glasgow but the capital is the historical town of Edinburgh. There is the famous Edinburgh Castle. Holyrood House and the Royal Mile leading to the Castle are the biggest tourist attractions. The Scots speak English and in some parts Scottish Gaelic as well. The symbol of the country is the thistle that, according to a legend, saved the Scots from their enemies. The patron of Scotland is St. Andrew. The typical Scottish instrument is the pipe and the typical Scot is dressed in a kilt. A sporran, a small leather or fur pouch, is worn around the waist. There are a lot of lakes in Scotland. The Scottish call them lochs. I am sure that the most famous one is Loch Ness with the tourist attraction of the monster “Nessie,” which was first sighted in the 6th century. The Scots love their traditional sports such as curling. In Scotland, the popular Highland Games are held annually. The Highland Games, also called the Scottish Olympics, are the most famous sports competitions with special disciplines in Scotland. The traditional Scottish sports as well as music and dancing are represented. The disciplines are tug-of-war, tossing the caber, putting the stone, and throwing the hammer. The dances are the Highland Flynn and a sword dance. There are piper bands that also compete.
Ireland is an interesting country. There are beautiful high mountains, wide empty beaches, and deep long rivers. Irish people are very friendly. A lot of Irish are popular musicians or writers, for example Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde. Ireland is divided into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland called Eire. The capital of Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., is Belfast, and the capital of Eire is Dublin. As for the recent history in Northern Ireland, there have often been violent terrorist attacks organized by the I.R.A., the Irish Republic Army, since 1921 when the Catholic part became independent and Northern Ireland became part of U.K. It is interesting to know that since the Republic of Ireland joined the E.U., it has changed from an agricultural to an industrial country. In the 1990s it was called “the Celtic Tiger”. The Irish flag is a tricolor of green, symbolizing the native Roman Catholic Church, Orange, symbolizing the British supporters of William of Orange, and white, symbolizing peace between the two. The symbol of the country is a green clover symbolizing the Holy Trinity and the patron saint of Ireland is St Patrick. St Patrick was a priest who lived in the 5th century. He converted the Irish people to Christianity and taught them to read and write. In St. Patrick’s name, the day of “wearing of the green shamrock” has been celebrated on the 17th of March by the Irish all over the world. The Irish are mostly fair-skinned, red-haired people. Today most of the Irish speak English but they learn Gaelic in school as well. The most popular Irish sorts are Gaelic Football and hurling. And no doubt Irish music and dance are world famous. Perhaps the reason is that the energy of Irish music and dance is so intense. Irish performance dancing is traditionally referred to as stepdancing. Irish stepdancing, popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show "Riverdance," is notable for its rapid leg movements while the body and the arms being are kept largely stationary. As I see it, watching this performance is an unforgettable experience.