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 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.
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.