Know Your Irish Symbols

If you’re not familiar with Irish culture, the number of emblems and icons can be confusing. To help you navigate their meaning and significance, we created this quick guide that includes five of the most-often-seen symbols. Read on to learn more about each one.

The Claddagh

The Claddagh is typically seen on a ring, such as this sterling silver one. The ring circle is in the shape of two hands holding a heart. These rings are given as tokens of love, friendship, and loyalty. The name Claddagh comes from a small fishing village located just outside of Galway, which was the birthplace of this symbol.


The Trinity Knot

The Trinity Knot is a continuous, unbroken triple knot that has no beginning and no end point. This knot symbolizes both the holy trinity in Christianity and also serves as reminder of ancient Ireland where the Celts believed the number three held magical powers. It is also called a Triquetra, which in Latin means three cornered. These knots often have a circle that outlines their frame like the one shown on this wall hanging.


The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a well-known emblem for many cultures. It symbolizes creation and our relationship with nature. The Celts, in particular noted the connection between heaven and earth found in the tree, with the roots reaching deep into the ground and the branches pointing upwards as seen on this suncatcher. Further, the tree is seen as a source of food and shelter.


The Celtic Cross

Surprisingly, this Christian symbol has pagan roots. Lore has it that the shape originated from an ancient sun symbol that St. Patrick modified by extending the lines to create a cross. The circle seen around the top portion is meant to symbolize the halo of Jesus Christ. It is a sacred element that can be found on meaning pieces such as this sterling and emerald necklace.


The Shamrock

As the national emblem of Ireland, the shamrock is associated with all things Irish and is seen as an inviting and welcoming symbol—perfect for welcoming loved ones. The origin of the word comes from the Irish word seamróg, meaning trefoil, which denotes the number of lobes on the leaves of these plants. It has been said that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a tangible way to explain the holy trinity to the Celts.

Crossing the Island: Plan a Weekend Jaunt from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher

Whether you’re of Irish descent or just find yourself daydreaming of this country’s beauty, seeing all of Ireland is a top wish on many people’s bucket list. For those lucky enough to make the trip, Dublin is often a starting and ending point thanks to its accessibility. However, that doesn’t mean all your time in Ireland has to be spent on this side of the island. Consider a weekend jaunt to the Atlantic side to visit the Cliffs of Moher.

The Drive from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher

Approximate Distance: 286 km (178 miles)
Approximate Travel Time: 4 Hours

If you have a need for speed, the fastest route from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher is via the M4/M6 motorway. If you leave Dublin early in the morning, you can be in Western Ireland in time for a late breakfast or early lunch.

 

Athlone bridge and river

 

Need a break? The halfway point between the two destinations is Athlone. Stop here to stretch your legs and get a cup of coffee or even visit a few of their top attractions. Athlone Castle, which sits along the River Shannon, is a popular choice for both adults and children thanks to history and architecture. If you are particularly interested in Irish culture, make a stop at the Derryglad Folk & Heritage Museum, located only a few miles out from the city center.

 

GAWLAY

Getting back in your car, continue along the M6 until you reach Galway. This is where the drive will become more interesting. From here, you’ll take N18 and N67 along the coastline until you reach the Cliffs. While there is a slightly faster route, this is by far the most beautiful. This drive will also afford you numerous photo opportunities as well.

 

O’Brien’s Tower in Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

 

O’Brien’s Tower at the Cliffs of Moher

When you reach your final destination, pause to admire the beauty for an afternoon. The bucolic Cliffs rise to almost 700 feet (at their highest point) above the blue waters of the Atlantic. Many visitors take in the view from O’Brien’s Tower. Built in the 19th century, this vantage point offers spectacular views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins, and the Maum Turk mountains.

When you leave the Cliffs of Moher, head back up the coastline to nearby Doolin where you can pop in at a pub for a quick bite. If you wish to stay the night, this town also has lodging.

Prepare for Your Easter Celebration!

Hippity Hop! Easter is on its way—and that means gatherings are order. Whether you’re hosting a crowd or spending the day with a few close loved ones, these tips can enjoy ensure you make the most of the spring celebration.

SET THE SCENE


Part of the fun in celebrating a holiday is in the preparation. Weeks before the Easter season, you can begin to set out special crosses (we love this Celtic Knot Wall Cross), bunnies, fresh lilies from the garden, and other signs of the season. If you plan to host guests, also consider their comfort. Make sure you have fresh towels in the bath and burn a softly scented candle to make your home feel inviting. Add throw pillows to your sofa or guest beds for extra comfort—as well personality. We particularly love this “welcoming” pillow.

FILL THE BASKETS


While eggs often take first priority in little ones’ Easter baskets, there’s always room for a few goodies. Chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and small toys are favorites. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, we can’t resist the cuteness of these bunny slippers.

ENJOY THE COMPANY


Finally, spending time with loved ones is a huge part of many Easter celebrations. Whether you are going to mass or church services, hiding and hunting eggs, or gathering around the table to share a meal, the day is made better when you are surrounded with friends and family. Set out a favorite tea to sip with friends and sit back to enjoy the day.

Use Irish Preserves to Serve a Crowd

Spring is in full swing, and that means parties and impromptu gatherings are on the rise. It’s no secret that conversations seem to flow more freely and friends seem to linger a little longer when there’s food involved. We’ve found the secret to easy entertaining: preserves. Keeping marmalade or chutney on hand along with a few other pantry necessities such as crackers, scones, or bread can make preparing a snack for a crowd a breeze.

We love the mini sampler from Crossogue Preserves because it has something for everyone. Plus, all of their preserves are made in Veronica Molloy’s kitchen in Tipperary, Ireland. She has become famous for the amazing taste! Here are a few of our favorite ways to use Crossogue Preserves.

 

FOR A COFFEE DATE


Having a friend drop by for coffee? English muffins with marmalade pair deliciously with a cup of joe. Try the Strawberry & Champagne Preserves in the sampler set for a sweet and satisfying treat. If you have more time on your hands, prepare Irish scones (try Hogan’s Irish Scone Mix) to go with the preserves. This is also an easy morning fix for overnight guests.

 

FOR A FAMILY GAME NIGHT


It’s hard not reach for a snack when you’re in a heated game of checkers or cards. Keep all the players happy with this easy-to-make appetizer. Pour a jar of Irish Harvest Fruit Chutney into a small bowl and cut a baguette into small, thin slices. Serve the two on a cutting board for a simple yet delicious treat. For added flavor, pour the chutney over a block of cream cheese to create a spread.

 

FOR COCKTAIL HOUR


Use Katie Reilly’s Irish Soda Bread Mix to make a traditional sweet raisin bread that you can pair with the sampler set’s Irish Whiskey Marmalade. If you don’t have time to make the soda bread, try pairing the preserves with a small loaf of rye bread or baguette slices. Serve with your favorite beverages.

Galway Crystal History

Ireland has long been known as a premier producer of fine crystal. The country’s tradition of quality craftsmanship coupled with a desire to pass down this knowledge from generation to generation has resulted in some of the world’s most reputable glass companies, including Galway Crystal.

The Kells Decanter Set from Galway Crystal

Throughout 2017, Galway is celebrating its 50th anniversary. And while they have moved from the Nun’s Island facility where their work was originally produced, they still maintain the same techniques that have attracted kings, presidents, and celebrities. Their pieces have been presented or used in both the White House and the Vatican. Galway Crystal even makes commissioned trophies and awards for sporting events and competitions, including the European Tour, the Football Association of Ireland, and the world famous Galway Races.

Galway Crystal’s Marriage “Make Up” Bell

Luckily you don’t have to be a dignitary or win a sporting event to enjoy Galway Crystal in your home. Any special occasion is a reason to give one of these beautifully crafted pieces. For example, a wedding or engagement party is the perfect time to present a couple with a Marriage “Make Up” Bell. Irish tradition holds that one spouse can ring this bell to end any marital spats. If it’s a new baby you’re celebrating, an angel figurine makes a sweet—and sparkling—addition to watch over the nursery. For Father Day’s, we love the idea of giving dear old dad a decanter set that is beautiful and timeless—and sure to be handed down through the years. Whatever your special occasion, Galway Crystal has been working since 1967 to mark the event with a treasured piece.

Featured Galway Irish Crystal

Nearly 30 years ago, Galway joined the Belleek Group which includes famous Belleek Parian China and Aynsley China – three prestigious brands which further enhanced the position of Galway Crystal in the global marketplace.

In 1996 a beautiful new Georgian-style building was opened on the site of the original factory on Old Dublin Road, this remains Galway’s headquarters today.   The site also houses a heritage center, a retail store and large distribution facility.
​​​​​​​
Through the years many well known people have passed through the doors of Galway Crystal, from Royalty to Presidents to celebrities. Galway Crystal can be found in some of the world’s most prestigious homes, from our own Aras an Uachtarain to the White House, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and the Vatican.
Galway Crystal also produces commissioned pieces for sporting bodies worldwide, from the world famous Galway Races, to the European Tour, the GAA, the Football Association of Ireland, to name a few.

3 Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

It’s here! Perhaps the most highly anticipated Irish holiday of the calendar year—otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day—has arrived. Which begs one question: how might you properly commemorate the day? Whether you’re spending the day with friends or family, wee ones or loved ones of all ages, we’ve got a few ideas for a celebration that’s worth a pot of gold.

 

TAKE IN A PARADE


Aside from drinking green beer, parades are on of the most popular ways to mark the holiday—especially in America. In fact, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the English army marched through the streets in honor of their heritage. Perhaps the best thing about a parade is that they are fun for all ages. Watch your local newspaper or event guides to see floats and bands in your town.

 

HOST A DINNER


Togetherness is key in Irish families and there’s no time that they are closer than when gathered around the dinner table. Whether your family is of Irish descent or you simply admire the heritage of Ireland, follow their lead by hosting a dinner. Plan the menu around traditional Irish fare, including corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and—of course—a few pints of Guinness.

 

SHARE THE HISTORY


If you want the most traditional route, revisit the roots of the holiday, which started and is still a religious feast day during the Lenten season. This special day, which honors St. Patrick the patron saint of Ireland, allowed the Irish—most of whom were and are predominantly Catholic—to lay aside Lenten prohibitions to dance, drink, revel, and even eat meat to mark the occasion. Spend the day recounting this story to your children or tracing your own roots to Ireland with a genealogy project.

Featured ShanOre® Jewelry

ShanOre® jewelry collections have become strong favorites with lovers of Celtic and Irish designs from around the globe. This wonderful world of ShanOre® is not only filled with exquisitely designed quality jewelry, it is all influenced by Celtic traditions and symbols. As early as 300 BC, Celtic tribes from Eastern Europe reached Ireland and both the rich culture and language they brought with them survive today. These quality products are designed, produced and hallmarked in Dublin, Ireland. The company is still owned and run by the same passionate Irish family that started jewelry manufacturing in 1979. ShanOre is taken from the old Irish words meaning Old Gold.

Celtic inspiration comes from traditional spirals, crosses, trinity knot and of course the classic Claddagh symbolizing love, loyalty & friendship. Each piece of jewelry is beautifully crafted in precious metals including gold and silver and some pieces also feature precious and semi precious stones, as well as many items that are embellished with crystals from Swarovski®.