Meaningful Irish Symbols:
Use them to Express Your Irish Side!

You don’t have to look far to see Irish symbols. They appear all around us, on clothing, jewelry, artwork, tableware and more.  In fact, they are so popular that it is very common to see them proudly displayed by people with no Irish heritage at all!

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Montage of Irish Symbols courtesy of

And that's just fine with us - in our humble opinion, everybody has an Irish side!

The fun behind these symbols is using them to express your Irish side, sharing what they mean and why they are important to you.

Here we will explore:

  1. The Celtic Knot
  2. The Celtic Cross
  3. The Claddagh
  4. The Tricolor Flag
  5. The Irish Family Crest
  6. The Celtic Harp
  7. The Tree of Life
  8. The Trinity Symbol
  9. The Shamrock
  10. The Triskelion

 ... and more!  Shall we take a closer look at some of them?

Irish Symbols:  Find Out How Much You Already Know!

Take our fun, free quiz to find out how much you already know about our ten favorite Irish symbols and their meanings...

So - How Did You Do?

A score of 80 or higher is a sign of a well-developed Irish side!

A score of 60-70 is pretty good!  You are probably the life of the party on St Patricks Day!

A score of 0-50 means you should brush up on your knowledge of the Emerald Isle! 

Keep exploring to discover exciting images and facts, and to learn about the many ways to express your Irish side, wherever you happen to be.

The Celtic Knot

Sometimes called "Irish knots" or "Mystic knots," Celtic knots are patterns of lines with no visible beginning and no apparent ending.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols. Image of Celtic Knot courtesy of Shutterstock.

Aside from being lovely, they are said to have important meanings, which you can learn more about in on this site!

As with many symbols of Ireland they appear on everything from clothing to tableware to jewelry to body art.

For information on this beautiful Irish symbol, visit our page on the Celtic Knot.

The Celtic Cross

This classic symbol of Ireland is shaped like a traditional Christian crucifix, with the addition of a circle around the intersection, symbolizing eternity.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols. Image of Celtic Crosses at Clonmacnoise Monastery.

It is typically decorated with symbols or scenes of various biblical events, and it is found in a variety of Irish expressions today, including art, tattoos and jewelry.

Visit our section on the Irish Cross for much more information about this important symbol of Ireland.

The Claddagh

This classic symbol originated in the town of Claddagh, and was first made into the famous claddagh ring in the 17th century during the reign of Mary II.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of Claddagh Ring, courtesy of

Two hands represent friendship and the crown stands for lasting fidelity and loyalty, while the heart represents eternal love.

Much more information on this key Irish symbol can be found in our page on the Claddagh Ring Story here.

The Tricolor Flag

The Tricolour flag is the national flag of Ireland. This flag was first introduced back in 1848 by Thomas F. Meager.  It was officially adopted in 1921.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of the Tricolor flag courtesy of

The green represents the Catholics and the orange stands for the Protestants in Northern Ireland.  The white represents the hope of peace between them.

Learn much more in our section on the Irish Flag.

The Irish Family Crest

Back in the 12th century, long shields and chain-link mail were replaced with helmets that covered the whole head, full-body armor and smaller shields.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of family crest on silk scarf courtesy of Shutterstock.

Knights could not be individually recognized. They began marking their shields with emblems to identify themselves for the tournaments or battles, and the family crest was born!

Learn more about these remarkable symbols of Ireland in our page on the Irish coat of arms.

The Celtic Harp

The Celtic Harp needs no introduction. This famous symbol can be seen everywhere from Irish clothing to Irish coins to beer bottles.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols. Image of Celtic Harp, courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Harp has a storied place in Irish history, and is a one of the most important elements in traditional Irish music.

It appears on flags and family crests, plays a part in Irish stories and folklore - and it just happens one was being played on in the courtyard in our last sight-seeing visit to Blarney Castle!

Find much more information in our section on the Irish Harp here!

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life represents a number of Irish values with Celtic roots.  Among these are strength, longevity and connection with the earth.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of Tree of Life on a stone, courtesy of

As with many Irish symbols the Celtic Tree of Life appears in many legends and myths.

It also adorns Irish jewerly, clothing, and other Irish works of art.

One of the most common places you will find the tree of life is in Irish tattoos! (I should know, my son just got one of them.  I don't like tattoos generally, but his is kind of cool, I must say.)

Find much more information in our section on the Tree of Life here!

Trinity Symbol

A close cousin of the Celtic knot, the Trinity symbol (or triquetra) symbolizes strength, eternity and the power of three, among other things.

Irish Expressoins: Irish Symbols.  Image of Triquetra courtesy of

As with many other important Irish symbols, this one has found its way into jewelry, clothing and works of art.

The roots of the Trinity symbol go back literally thousands of years.

For much more information about this important symbol of Celtic Ireland, please enjoy our page on the Trinity Symbol here!

The Shamrock

Now we turn to the world-famous Irish Shamrock.  Rumored to have the power to ward off evil spirits, scare away snakes and heal diseases, this little symbol packs a mighty punch.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of Irish Shamrock courtesy of

So much so that at one time it was banned from public display by the Queen of England.

I know, crazy right?

If that simple little description leaves you wanting more, please check out our section on the Shamrock symbol here!

The Triskelion

A close cousin to the Triquetra, the meaning of the Triskelion design is essentially “three-legged."  It is no coincidence that this Celtic symbol visually resembles three legs running!

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of Triskelion courtesy of

Representing both man’s progress as well as competition, the Triskelion can also be referred to as the fylfot and the triskele.

Various attributes that have been attached to any given leg have been everything from “creator, sustainer, destroyer” to “father, mother, child.”

The Spiral

The spiral is a vital part of Celtic design.  Essentially, it stands for energy of an ethereal kind that either radiates to the outside or even to the inside.

The Single Spiral

The single spiral has been interpreted as representing personal growth, expansion of the conscious and even birth.

Irish Expressions: Celtic Symbols.  Image of single spirals at Knowth, courtesy of

Some people believe the history of the single spiral goes all the way back to ancient Celtic artists who depended on the spiral’s symbolism for a mind-changing creative process.

It worked like this: When they created a spiral in their artwork, they believed that their minds were liberated into a creative achievement.

Double Spiral

An obvious spinoff (see what we did there? :-) on the basic spiral, the double spiral is simply a representation of balance as well as of the equinoxes.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Symbols.  Image of Double Spiral courtesy of

It basically looks like two single spirals that have become joined at their respective ends.

The equinox is a term that relates to astronomy, and it relates to the occurrence in which the Sun can be seen right over the equator.

Triple Spiral

The triple spiral is another meaningful symbol within the world of Celtic design.  It is said that it stands for the drawing of the three powers of crone, mother and maiden.

Irish Expressions: Irish Symbols.  Image of triple spirals at Newgrange courtesy of

Basically, it is a sign of the power of the female, and it is also a symbol of the power of both growth as well as transition.

The spiral—the basic building block of this triple spiral symbol—is found all over Celtic artifacts of old.

The Shield Knot

As far as free Celtic symbols go, the shield knot has actually been utilized across thousands of years by a number of cultures, mainly for the purposes of warding off and protection.

Irish Expressions: Celtic Symbols. Image of Celtic Shield Knot courtesy of

Despite its use by other cultures throughout the times, it is still primarily associated with Celtic tradition.  The tradition behind this shield knot states that it is deeply associated with the four-fold solar cross.

The Ogham

The Celtic Ogham is unique among the free Celtic designs on this page - because it actually relates to an alphabet and to writing.  It was named after Ogmos, the Celtic god of  knowledge and communication.  For perspective, Ogmos has frequently been connected to his Greek counterpart, the god Hermes.

Irish Expressions:  Celtic Symbols.  Image of Ogham Stone courtesy of

The Ogham manner of writing has been found by archaeologists all over the British Isles.  All of its surviving examples take the form of stone carvings that are normally seen on road markers as well as tombstones.