Traditional Irish Symbols of Ireland

Symbols of Ireland are everywhere. If you’re taking an Ireland vacation, you will definitely notice all the symbols of Ireland.  With a rich history, interspersed with a culture that highly values story telling, you won’t return from your Irish travels with any lack of legend.  Play a little game while you’re abroad, and try to spot these symbols of Ireland.

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As symbols of Ireland are concerned, the shamrock may be one of the most prolific. Remember that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.  The shamrock, or 3 leaf clover, represents the holy trinity; the father, the son and the holy ghost.  If you’re interested in Shamrock Vacations, look no further.


Have you noticed the harp appearing on Irish coins? It even graces the Guinness, a popular Irish beer, bottle labels. Centuries ago, the Irish were some of the most magnificent harp players, sough after by nobility, kings and queens. To suppress the Irish culture, Elizabeth I had many instruments destroyed and harpists executed. These symbols of Ireland remains strong, even if the traditionally trained harpist died out long ago.


You may hear a legend during your Ireland tour that says St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. In fact, there never were snakes on the Emerald Isle. He did encourage many pagans to become Christian. The traditional sign for evil in Christianity is the snake.


celtic cross

Irish travelers love these symbols of Ireland. In the history of St. Patrick when he converted the pagans, he wanted them to adopt the Christian cross.   To help the pagans, traditional worshipers of nature, identify with the Christian cross, he had a sun, a highly revered pagan symbol, incorporated into the cross.


The claddagh is a traditional Irish ring given as a token of friendship or love or worn as a wedding ring.  The design design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). The origin of the Claddagh ring is one of the most traditional Irish love stories you’ll ever hear.


St. Brigid Cross

Taking a trip to Ireland on February 1? That’s St. Brigid’s Feast Day.  A contemporary of St. Patrick, St. Brigid converted her father to Christianity.  The crosses, woven from thrush, were created at the beginning of Spring to help protect a farmer’s holding.  You’ll notice these symbols of Ireland in prominent places on farms, like the house and barn.


celtic knot

These symbols of Ireland have no beginning and no end, like nature.  It’s not clearly defined where they came from or what they mean, exactly.  Suffice to say, they sometimes ward off evil.  They sometimes signify continuing life cycle.  Regardless, they are always endless.



We couldn’t write about symbols of Ireland without a mention of the leprechaun, meaning sprite or fairy.  The mythical creatures are traditionally shoe makers.  If you catch one, you get three wishes and a pot of gold.  During your trip to Ireland, make sure you try to spot one.  It’s like hitting the lottery, only a way more unique story to tell your friends. (Read more about the Mystery of Ireland’s Leprechauns here)

The fun of Irish travel may be spotting all these symbols of Ireland.   Have some fun and try to make up your own Irish legends as you go.  What does the Celtic knot mean to you?  Were you weaving a St. Brigid cross when you spotted a Leprechaun?  Any way you spin it, just make sure you spot it.

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