The Irish Cross (Celtic Cross): Presenting one of the Most Famous Symbols of Irish Culture !

If you are looking for a recognized Irish symbol, the Irish Cross (Celtic Cross) is probably near the top of the list. The ornate details and circle around the intersection of the cross are what sets it apart and makes it both recognizable and beautiful.

Irish Celitc Cross. Stone statue against water background.

This Irish symbol is believed to have existed since at least the Dark Ages. Originally, Celtic crosses were carved on flat slabs of stone.

Later they became upright rather than laying flat on the ground.

These crosses also had traditional Celtic symbols on them like the knot work, spirals, and foliage.

Today, you'll find them in Celtic jewelry, tableware, clothing, and various other art forms. Irish cross pendants and tattoos are two of the more common expressions of this classic Irish and Celtic symbol.

We love knowing a bit about them.  That helps us to start conversations and tell stories about our Irish crosses, and gives us opportunities to express our Irish side!

What is the meaning of the Irish Cross (Celtic Cross)?

Some believe these crosses represent north, south, east, and west. While others think earth, water, wind, and fire.

One legend suggests Saint Patrick created the original Cross when he took a regular Latin cross and drew a circle over it.

It is assumed he did this to include the pagan symbol of the moon goddess the legend states.

Still others believe the circle that appears on the Cross stands for the never-ending love God has for man. According to the Irish Catholics, the Cross also stands for Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection.

How is the Cross used?

Irish monks erected a large number of the free-standing versions not only in Ireland but Great Britain as well. This practice started around the 7th century. Many of the crosses at that time had inscriptions in the runic alphabet.

Irish Cross - Clonmacnoise Monestary Bay Side

Many examples still stand today. At County Meath, there is the "Cross of Kells" for one example of the Celtic Cross (Irish Cross). Another example is in Clonmacnoise, Ireland with the "Cross of the Scriptures".

These crosses were made until around the 15th century when they almost ceased to exist almost, down to just a few examples.

Then in the 19th century, there was a renewed interest in the Celtic culture, which brought back the crosses. The new versions were used as upscale markers in cemeteries.

In the early days of this cross, it was only used for a monument so this was a new use for it. The cross during this time became a Celtic symbol with historic meaning.

Between 1899 - 1940, designers such as Euphemia and Alexander Ritchie were responsible for the Celtic Cross being worn as jewelry.

This continues even now. In fact, now you can find many souvenir items with the Cross on them, worn as religious symbols or good luck charms.

So What is YOUR Favorite Irish Symbol Experience?

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Wearing or displaying the Irish cross (Celtic cross) symbol is an unmistakable sign that you have an Irish side!  For more information on the beautiful symbols that adorn Irish culture and traditions, visit our section on Irish symbols here.

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And please continue to explore our beloved Irish culture and heritage, here at Irish expressions, and with a few more excellent websites and blogs about Ireland.

One of my absolute favorites is:

Your Irish Heritage

We can't say enough good things about this beautiful website, designed by a husband / wife team in Ireland who are completely dedicated to helping you trace your Irish ancestry. 

And even if you don't have one of those, they share wonderful history and facts about the Emerald Isle.  Not to be missed!

Please explore their lovely site... then come back!  Tell us what you learned and what you want to know more about.

In the meantime, thank you so much for visiting!  Please continue exploring Irish culture and traditions, and sharing your Irish side with the growing community at Irish!



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