Oh dear! Barack Obama confuses Scotland and Ireland with ‘Emerald Isles’ remark in Glasgow

COP26: Barack Obama addresses lack of climate change action

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The former US President arrived in Glasgow yesterday to attend the ongoing climate conference. But as far as he was concerned, he had landed in the “Emerald Isles”.

Mr Obama attempted a local reference but failed spectacularly, quoting the nickname of a different country altogether.

He told conference-goers: “Since we’re here in the Emerald Isles, let me quote The Bard. ‘What wound did ever heal but by degrees?’

“Our planet has been wounded by our actions – those wounds won’t be healed today, or tomorrow, or the next, but they can be healed by degrees.”

“Emerald Isles” is a romantic nickname for Ireland – not Scotland.

And those more astute readers will notice that Mr Obama’s “Emerald Isles” gaffe was straight away followed by another.

“The Bard” Mr Obama refers to is English poet and playwright William Shakespeare.

The line “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” Is taken from the play Othello, written by Shakespeare in the early 17th century.

England’s Bard though he may be, Shakespeare is not the bard of Scotland.

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Robert Burns lays claim to that title in the Emerald Isles – sorry, Scotland.

Even if the conference had been held in Ireland and Obama’s “Emerald Isles” reference had struck the right note, the former US President would still have mixed up his bards.

William Butler Yeats is perhaps far more likely to hold the title of “Top Poet” than England’s Shakespeare.

Unsurprisingly, people have taken to social media to mock Mr Obama’s – or, perhaps, his script writer’s – error.

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Shirley Weeks joked on Twitter: “Barack Obama is in the Emerald Isles. We’re all in Scotland.”

Courtney Chiellini added that “Barack Obama referring to Scotland as being part of the “Emerald Isles” and then proceeding to quote Shakespeare is just so American”.

Mr Obama’s slip-up is, however, surely far less embarrassing than reports of the current US President, Joe Biden, falling asleep during a COP26 speech.

In his speech, Mr Obama said that while tacking climate change will be difficult, “the thing we have going for us, is that humanity has done hard things before.

“I believe we can do hard things again.”

He added that “important work” is being done at the climate conference, which will come to an end on November 12, but that “we are nowhere near where we need to be”.

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