The civilization of Ireland (or the Celtic people) is an old one, dating as far back as 8000BC. It’s no surprise, therefore that the country has a rich heritage and very old traditions and symbols. From leprechauns to shamrocks and Claddaghs to the Celtic Cross, Irish symbols speak of a creative, delightful people. Below are some of the most popular Irish or Celtic symbols that have found their way through history, myths, legends, and folktales.
Related Irish Jewelry
By the Artist – David Weiztman and Ka Gold Jewelry
|Gordian Knot||Irish Wit Ring||Inlaid Victory Ring|
The Celtic Cross
The Irish Harp
The Tricolor Flag of Ireland
of the small portable type played by Celtic minstrels, is the oldest official symbol of Ireland. Though not as recognizable as the shamrock, the harp is widely used. It appears on Irish coins, the presidential flag, state seals, uniforms, and official documents. But the harp is most often associated with Guinness, which adopted the harp as its trademark in 1862.
Does tracking down a leprechaun and his hidden pot of gold sound improbable at best? Many people believe that the leprechaun keeps his gold at the end of a rainbow. Have you ever seen the end of a rainbow? Interestingly, one of the definitions of a rainbow is “a goal, hope, or an ideal that is unlikely to be achieved or realized.”
The Banshee, from the Irish bean sÃdhe, is a feminine spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. In Irish legend, a banshee wails nearby if someone is about to die. There are particular families who are believed to have banshees attached to them, and whose cries herald the death of a member of that family.
Merrow or Murrough (Galloway) is the Scottish and Irish Gaelic equivalent of the mermaid and mermen of other cultures. These beings are said to appear as a human from the waist up but have the body of a fish from the waist down. They have a gentle, modest, affectionate and benevolent disposition.
were originally half human, half-fairy aborigines who came from Kintyre in Scotland to later settle in Ireland. The Grogoch is well-known throughout north Antrim, Rathlin Island and parts of Donegal, Grogochs may also to be found on the Isle of Man, where they are called “Phynnodderee”. Resembling a very small elderly man, though covered in coarse, dense reddish hair or fur, he wears no clothes but sports a variety of twigs and dirt from his travels. Grogochs are not noted for their hygiene: there are no records of any female Grogochs.
A changeling is a creature found in Western European folklore and folk religion. It is typically described as being the offspring of a fairy, troll, elf or other legendary creature that has been secretly left in the place of a human child. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to the child who was taken.
The Puca or Pooka (Irish for a goblin) is a creature of Celtic folklore, notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. It is one of the myriad fairy folk, and, like many fairy folks, is both respected and feared by those who believe in it.
The Irish Dullahan
is a type of Unseelie fairie. It is headless, usually seen riding a black horse and carrying his head under one arm. The head’s eyes are massive and continuously dart about like flies, while the mouth is consistently in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese. The Dullahan’s whip is a human corpse’s spine, and the wagons they sometimes use are made of similarly funereal objects. When the Dullahan stops riding, it is where a person is due to die. The Dullahan calls out their name, at which point they immediately perish.
St. Brigid’s Cross
St. Brigid’s Cross (also known as Brighid’s Cross and Bride’s Cross) is a revered Irish Christian symbol that appears to have the pagan sun-wheel as its inspiration. It is usually woven from rushes, or occasionally straw, and is hung prominently by the house door or in the rafter to protect the building from fire and the evil spirits. The cross is made to commemorate St. Brigid who is one of the three patron saints of Ireland. Making it is a traditional ritual that is observed throughout the country on the St. Brigid’s Feast Day that falls on the 1st of February.
The Wolfhound or Hound is associated with some Celtic gods, goddesses and mythological heroes. It is seen as a source of healing power and a guardian figure. With its incredible size and strength, yet a noble bearing, this Irish beast became a status symbol and was gifted to honorable men. Several Chiefs and warriors even used Hound as a title, for instance, the ‘Hound of Culann’ for demonstrating their courage and loyalty. The Wolfhound has endured over the ages as an important Irish symbol representing Ireland’s heroic past.