Best Irish Tattoo Designs: Share Your Irish Side Through Irish Tattoo Art!

Irish tattoo designs are a very personal experience. For many people, it is the ultimate Irish expression - an unmistakable and permanent sign of your connection with Irish / Celtic culture and heritage.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Photo of Irish Cross tattoo by Tattoo Lover. Flickr.com

Irish and Celtic tattoos, and their typically Celtic designs are popular for several reasons. The most common reason is to show pride in your Celtic symbols and heritage.  Another reason is - these designs are just very cool to look at, and tells stories about.

There are many places to get examples of great tattoo designs.  What we want to do here is introduce you to the basics, then point you in the right direction to find your ultimate design.

How to Choose an Irish Tattoo Design

The best approach is to take your time and select a unique design that is truly meaningful to you.  For example, when my son turned 17, he informed me that on his 18th birthday he would be getting a tattoo.

My response was - "Oh yeah?  Who's going to pay for it?"

"Mom."

Oh.  End of story. I was out of the loop.

Well, not quite.  Over the coming year, he gradually convinced me that his chosen design - a tree of life image over his heart - was actually a very personal and meaningful way for him to express his love of Ireland.

Here, in the flesh (get it?) is what finally happened...

Irish Expressions: Irish Tattoo Designs - Tree of Life symbol tattooed on teenage chest.

Pretty great, I have to admit.

Types of Irish Tattoo Designs

The most common Irish tattoo designs are:

  1. Celtic crosses
  2. Celtic knotwork (including images that represent Holy Trinity such as Triquetra)
  3. Shamrock tattoos
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Claddagh Symbol
  6. Other symbols of Celtic folklore

The best way to choose a tattoo design is to ask yourself - what do I care about?  What do I like to talk to other people about?  What part of who I am, am I the most proud of?

Then, find a design you really like that represents those things.

There are lots of guidelines to keep in mind as far as colors, design complexity, location on the body, how to find a tattoo artist, etc.

We'll leave those things to the experts.  They can be added once you have decided on your favorite design.

What we want to do here is tell you about 10 cool types of Irish tattoo designs, so you have the information you need to make the best choice for you.

Irish Tattoo Design #1:  The Celtic Cross

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs - Celtic Cross Designs courtesy of Flickr.

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 symbol that is such an important part of Irish culture and tradition.

Irish Tattoo Design #2:  The Celtic Knot

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs - Celtic Knot Designs courtesy of Flickr.

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 other articles.

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

A celtic knot tattoo is one of the most common forms of body art representing Celtic and Irish tradition.

For more information on this beautiful Irish symbol, and ideas for celtic tattoo designs such as the Trinity knot and the Celtic shield knot, visit our page on the Celtic Knot.

Irish Tattoo Design #3:  The Shamrock

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs - Celtic Knot Designs courtesy of Flickr.

The world-famous Irish Shamrock is an important historic symbol, prized by many Irish people.

Rumored to have the power to ward off evil spirits, scare away snakes, heal diseases, and bestow good luck, this little symbol packs a mighty punch.

Keep in mind, a shamrock is not a four-leaf clover.  Totally different things.  

It is said St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland used the three leaves of the shamrock in his teachings about Holy Trinity.

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

Irish Tattoo Design #4:  The Tree of Life

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs - Tree of Life Design courtesy of Flickr.

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 in Irish folklore.

It also adorns Irish jewelry, clothing, and other Irish works of art.  Find much more information in our section on the Tree of Life here!

Irish Tattoo Design #5:  The Claddagh Symbol

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Image of Claddagh Symbol courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Claddagh is one of the most recognized Irish symbols which is why the Claddagh ring is one of the most popular kinds of Irish jewelry.

Claddagh is actually the name of the oldest fisherman village in Ireland, located next to lovely Galway city. 

There are many stories and legends associated with the Claddagh, but at the heart of all the stories is the idea of undying love.

If you have an interest in potentially getting a claddagh tattoo, visit our post on the Claddagh symbol for more information.

Irish Tattoo Design #6:  Irish Flag Tattoo

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Image of Irish Flag Symbol courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Irish flag is truly representative of the nation it flies over, and is a great example of a recognizable Irish symbol.

The flag displays 3 equal stripes of orange, white and green.

The orange represents Irish protestants, the green represents Irish Catholics and white stands for the hope of peace between these two groups.

This powerful Irish symbol is a great design for representing the constant struggle for unity that has been so much a part of Irish culture.

Click here for more information about the Irish tricolor flag.

Irish Tattoo Design #7:  Other symbols of
Celtic folklore and mythology

There are many other symbols of Irish mythology and celtic heritage.  The last few on our list are not quite as common as the first six, but still worth considering.

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Image of Ailm symbol courtesy of Shutterstock.

One popular choice is the Ailm, one of the most significant Celtic symbols.  It is derived from the letter “A” of the Ogham alphabet.  The Ailm symbolizes strength:  both physical and spiritual.  

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Image of Salmon of Knowledge symbol courtesy of Shutterstock.

Another unique way to express Irish folklore is through the salmon of knowledge.  Legend holds the first to taste this fish would be able to see into past and future, and become the wisest (man) in all of Ireland.  

Irish Expressions:  Irish Tattoo Designs.  Image of Irish Harp symbol courtesy of Shutterstock.

Finally a strong design and one of the most popular tattoo symbols is the famous Celtic harp.  This symbol of Ireland can be found on everything from official documents and passports to coins to the signage of many large institutions. Learn more about this classic symbol of Irish and Celtic heritage here.

What's Next?

The best choice of Irish tattoo designs is going to be a beautiful design representing your own unique relationship to Ireland.

This post has only scratched the surface when it comes to Irish and Celtic symbols that can be used as body art.  And displaying Irish symbols is only one way to bring Irish expressions into your day to day life.  

At Irish Expressions, our our goal is simple: to provide you with a unique Irish experience, on demand, wherever you are in the world.

If you have spent any time on our site, you have probably been exposed to many of the most exciting sights, sounds, sayings, symbols, flavors and fun that Ireland has to offer!

Will that entice you to visit Ireland - or to return if you have already been?  We hope so!  

But even if that is not possible, you can still enjoy the magic of Ireland in these pages.  Check out the links at the top of the page for simple instructions on how to explore Irish landmarks, sing Irish songs, enjoy Irish food, and much more!

Your Personal Irish Expression

One way to share your love of Ireland is by displaying your family coat of arms (family crest).  A very personal symbol of the stories and accomplishments of your ancestors can adorn clothing, kitchenware, wall art, personal accessories and so much more. 

Want to have a look?  Our friends at House of Names can help! 

Tap the button below and see your family crest for free!

Search for Family Name Button

Want to Feel More Connected to Ireland?  Here's How!

At Irish Expressions we believe everybody – well almost everybody! - has an "Irish side."  So how nice would it be to have access to a fun, free Irish experience, on demand, wherever in the world you happen to be?

Over the years we have compiled many free, downloadable resources including lyrics, recipes, games, jokes, blessings and much, much more.  Would you like to receive them ALL for FREE?  Simply share your email for instant access!

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A Note from Bruce

If you would like to see more from Irish Expressions, you can find us on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also communicate with us using our contact form here. 

And of course you can always reach out to me directly at bruce@irish-expressions.com

However you choose to connect, we would love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, thanks for visiting!  I hope that we will meet someday, in person or online, and you can tell me about your own connection to the Emerald Isle.

Until then, best wishes -

Bruce Grady, and the team at Irish-Expressions.com


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