If you’re a geek like me, you probably want to know everything about everything. Yep, I want to know everything about space, animals, technology, entertainment and more – but unfortunately, my mind isn’t a sponge, and I don’t have a photographic memory (*sobs*). However, there is one topic I love more than most, and that is the Irish culture. I love the Guinness (of course), I love the landscapes, I love the accent, and I love the history. One of the most impressive aspects of Irish history is the symbolism in the country. But have you ever wondered what the most common symbols in Ireland are? Well, I’ve got the low-down for you…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the whole of your life (that must suck), you probably would have seen a Shamrock before. From the Irish ‘seamróg,’ the shamrock is first and foremost a ‘young clover.’ In reality, it’s the kind of clover you might pass on a daily basis in your local park – but in Irish culture, the Shamrock holds a dear place in the symbolism. Representing the Holy Trinity, the Shamrock has been linked to the one and only Saint Patrick for centuries and is a huge symbol for Irish Christians.
If you’re a fan of Guinness, you’ll know what the Irish Harp looks like, but you might not know what it represents. So what does the Irish Harp symbolize? Well, this instrument has been a major symbol in Ireland for centuries and dates back around 1,000 years (wowza). The harp has long been associated with royalty and kings, and it’s believed that the last High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, was partial to playing the harp. Thanks to its prominence in Irish culture, it has since been associated with pure ‘Irishness.’
If you’ve ever found yourself wandering through cemeteries in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, or many other cemeteries around the world, you may have noticed the Celtic Cross adorning the graves. Dating back to the 4th-Century, the Celtic Cross is believed to have been the creation of Saint Patrick (oh, Paddy. What a legend) and is a combination of the Celtic Circle and the Christian Cross. It’s widely assumed that this cross is associated with the sun and the regenerative powers its possesses.
One of the most popular pieces of jewelry in Ireland is the Claddagh Ring. While they are most commonly used as engagement rings, they are also used as friendship rings and have even become family heirlooms. After all, there’s a pretty epic Irish symbolism associated to these rings. With two hands clasping a crowned heart, the Claddagh Ring symbolizes unity, marriage love, loyalty and promise, and dates back to the Roman age. The ring has different meanings depending on which finger the wearer wears it.
You can’t talk about Irish culture and symbolism without talking about Leprechauns. These little creatures are commonly known as fairies and first appeared in Irish folklore. With their ginger beards, green outfits and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, Leprechauns are commonly associated with good luck – as these Leprechauns grant their capturer three wishes. They have since become a major part of St. Patrick’s day events and activities, and many people dress up like these wee little men!
There are hundreds of symbols in Ireland, but these are some of the most common (and the coolest)…