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
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:
... and more! Shall we take a closer look at some of them?
Take our fun, free quiz to find out how much you already know about our ten favorite Irish symbols and their meanings...
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 Irish-expressions.com to discover exciting images and facts, and to learn about the many ways to express your Irish side, wherever you happen to be.
Sometimes called "Irish knots" or "Mystic knots," Celtic knots are patterns of lines with no visible beginning and no apparent ending.
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.
This classic symbol of Ireland is shaped like a traditional Christian crucifix, with the addition of a circle around the intersection, symbolizing eternity.
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.
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.
Two hands represent friendship and
the crown stands for lasting fidelity and loyalty, while the heart represents
Much more information on this key Irish symbol can be found in our page on the Claddagh Ring Story here.
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.
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.
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.
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 needs no introduction. This famous symbol can be seen everywhere from Irish clothing to Irish coins to beer bottles.
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 represents a number of Irish values with Celtic roots. Among these are strength, longevity and connection with the earth.
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!
A close cousin of the Celtic knot, the Trinity symbol (or triquetra) symbolizes strength, eternity and the power of three, among other things.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 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 has been interpreted as representing personal growth, expansion of the conscious and even birth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
A note from Bruce:
My friend Stuart Marley and his wife Meredith are the founders of Real Irish Gifts and Travel, one of the finest Irish-themed businesses I have encountered. They have been operating since 1999.
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