3 iconic Irish folklore symbols and their meanings

Ireland is known to be a land of myth and folklore. So, here are three iconic Irish folklore symbols and their meanings.

Irish and Celtic culture has thrived for millennia and continues to hold a revered position in contemporary Ireland.

Whether you’re a resident or planning the trip of a lifetime to the Emerald Isle, you are likely to encounter the symbols that represent the rich tapestry of Irish culture in both routine and unexpected places.

If you’re wondering what these symbols are and what they mean, we have got you covered. Here’s our round-up of the Irish folklore symbols you’re most likely to encounter.

3. The Harp – the national symbol of Ireland

When it comes to iconic Irish folklore symbols, you can't forget the harp.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The harp is the national symbol of Ireland and one of the iconic Irish folklore symbols you’re likely to encounter everywhere.

Government buildings, post offices, passports, and street signs across the Republic are all adorned with the harp.

The origins of the symbol are murky. However, the most commonly accepted theory is that the last High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, was a talented harpist.

These days, there are dozens of companies in Ireland that use the harp in their imagery. One such company is this Dublin jeweller that specialises in harp-themed accessories.

2. Shamrock – one of the most iconic Irish folklore symbols

The shamrock is one of the most iconic Irish folklore symbols.
Credit: pixabay.com / @JillWellington

The shamrock is the national flower of Ireland and a symbol that is associated with the country the world over.

The Gaelic word for shamrock is seamróg, and the plant is native to the country. Hundreds of years ago, druids thought the shamrock had magical powers, owing to the three leaves, a powerful number in folklore.

Today, the shamrock is a necessary adornment for countless representations of Irish culture. It can be seen in books, TV, music, film, and even online slot games.

In fact, one of the most popular slots at online casinos today, 5 Pots O Riches, trades heavily on the association of the shamrock with good luck in Irish culture.

Thanks to this centuries-old association, you can log in to any online casino in any country and see dozens of games that feature shamrocks. This should appeal to those more superstitious gamblers out there. 

1. Celtic Cross – a historical symbol of Ireland

The Celtic Cross is undoubtedly one of the iconic Irish folklore symbols.
Credit: Pixabay.com

The Celtic Cross appears mostly in religious settings, such as cemeteries. Today, however, the symbol has taken on wider popularity and is often used in jewellery and branding in Ireland.

Legend has it that Saint Patrick himself created the cross. Upon his arrival in Ireland back in the fifth century, Saint Patrick combined the pagan circle with the Christian cross as part of his efforts to bring Christianity to the country.

It is for this reason that he is Ireland’s patron saint today. He even acts as the focal point of the largest celebration of Irish culture worldwide, Saint Patrick’s Day

These are the most iconic symbols of Irish culture that you are sure to encounter during your time there. Now, you’ll know exactly what they mean. 

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