Irish Symbols: The Meanings and Histories
There are so many Irish Symbols out there ! But what do they really mean? Let’s explore the world of Irish Symbology together!
The harp is one of Ireland’s most iconic symbols! As far back as the 13th century, harpists enjoyed a high status in Irish society for providing people with joy and music. In the 17th century, during the period of the 'Kingdom of Ireland', the pillar of the harp began to be depicted as a bare-breasted woman. When Ireland became the independent Irish state in 1922, a late-medieval Gaelic harp (a cláirseach), the Trinity College Harp, was used as a model for the Irish coat of arms. The harp is the symbol for the Irish tradition of joy and music, the core of the Irish personality.
The Celtic Cross:
The Celtic cross originated as far back as the 9th Century. Although the exact origins of the cross are not certain, It has often been claimed that Patrick combined the symbol of Christianity with the sun cross to give pagan followers an idea of the importance of the cross. By linking it with the idea of the life-giving properties of the sun, these two ideas were linked to appeal to pagans. This cross can be seen throughout Irish history.
St. Brigid’s Cross:
St.Brigid is one of the patron Saints of Ireland. These crosses are typically made out of rushes and have four arms tied at the ends and a woven square in the middle. Historically, there were also three-armed versions. It is suggested that the cross has pre-Christian origins and is related to the sun cross. The crosses are traditionally made in Ireland on St Brigid's feast day, 1 February, which was formerly celebrated as a pagan festival (Imbolc) marking the beginning of spring.
The Celtic Knot:
The Celtic Knot dates back to the 7th Century and is also known by the names ‘Endless Knot’ or ‘Mystic Knot’. It is believed that the idea behind the Celtic Knot is that there are no beginnings or endings. Life is cyclical and endless with birth, death and rebirth. For a 3-piece knot, it believed that each extension stands for the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit also known as the Holy Trinity.
Probably the most recognizable Irish symbol, the meaning of the Claddagh symbol remains a mystery to many. The hands represent friendship while the heart represents love adorned with a crown representing loyalty. These three traits make for a life long, strong relationship. In terms of rings, one would wear the heart facing out if they are single and facing in towards the heart if they are married.
Hopefully this sheds some light on the meaning behind many Irish symbols. Explore our website BiddyMurphy.com to discover more! We have a brief outline of the meaning of most of our products in their descriptions.