Celtic Symbols of Ireland Explained

Celtic Symbols of Ireland Explained

The world is fascinated by Celtic symbols, there meaning and the different types of design. The Celts used these symbols for different purposes. Celtic Symbols are a huge part of Irish history and stories of times gone by.

Celtic symbols have become very popular worldwide and especially in the jewellery world, Celtic t-shirts and paintings and posters. There are loads of different Celtic symbols, each one has there own unique design and meaning, some are for luck others have special meanings.

Who were the Celts

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The Celts were a group of Caucasian tribes located all over Europe and especially in Ireland. The Celts first appeared in history books around 1200 BC (Iron Age) in Austria. The name The Celts actually came from the Romans back in the day! The Celts in Ireland spoke the native language (Gaelic) and old Irish or primitive Irish.

There is evidence that the Celts were one of the dominant groups of society in Ireland. The Celtic Ogham script was used in the Emerald Isle since the fourth century.

This language was a series of strokes and lines to form letters. Ogham gets its name from the word “Ogma”, the Celtic God of Eloquence and Literature. The Celts were great builders and farmers, building large earth-filled banks and primitive style houses. They farmed the land and kept animals. If you interested in Ogham style jewellery check out my friend’s website here!

The meaning of Celtic Symbols

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Celtic symbols have many meanings, some were not recorded very well down the centuries. Some Celtic symbols have had different interpretations over the years. Many symbols have interconnected parts and three sections. The Celts believed in three parts of life, this was an important part of the Celtic culture.

The Celts held special meaning to the sea, the sky and the earth. The three parts of Celtic symbols can means, the son, the father and the holy spirit. Some Celtic symbols embody the spirit, the mind and the body and as three interconnected parts.

Popular Celtic Symbols

1 – The Celtic Cross

2 – The Trinity Knot

3 – The Dara Knot

4 – The Shamrock

5 – The Triskelion

6 – The Irish Harp

7 – The Claddagh Ring

The Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is an iconic symbol of Ireland and of Celtic design. These old crosses used to be made from wood and then later on, they were made of stone. There are some beautiful Celtic crosses scattered all over Ireland, one that I like is in County Clare in Kilfenora.

Celtic crosses have many meanings like some other Celtic symbols, there are stories that the Great Saint Patrick introduced the famous cross when he was converting the Pagans to Christianity in Ireland.

The Celtic Cross has symbolism meanings, The arms of the cross offer four different ways, an invitation to know nature, ascension, wisdom, the god and the goddess and one’s self. There are many different meanings of the design of the cross including, earth, water, fire and air. It is believed the four sections represent the different seasons of the year. There are many fine examples of Celtic Crosses in old churches, graves yards and historic sites all over the Emerald Isle

The Trinity Knot

The Trinity knot or the Triqetra is taught to be a symbol of spirituality. The Triqeutra is a Latin word for triangular. The Triquetra is featured in the Book Of Kells. The Trinity knot is believed to be a symbol of Family. There are other Celtic knots that symbolise family unity, love, strength and everlasting love.

This beautiful knot is also called the Celtic Triangle and is features in many Celtic jeweller pieces. In the Christianity religion, the three parts of the Trinity Knot symbolise the holy trinity, the father, son and the holy ghost. The Trinity Knot is seen in many paintings, on stained glass in churches all over Ireland and in some Christian sculptures the knot features.

The Dara Knot

This famous Celtic knot has an in-tricked design of a woven type. The Dara knot gets its name from the Irish word “Doire” which translates to “Oak Tree”. The Dara knot has a cool design of interconnected woven loops.

The Dara knot is a symbol of the root system of the oak tree. They are a few different versions of the Dara knot. The oak tree was an important part of the Celts believes, they saw the oak tree as a symbol of leadership, power, strength and wisdom. Some other Celtic knots include mammals, birds, man, fish and reptiles. The Dara knot was used by the Celts during hard times to provide strength, leadership and wisdom.

The Shamrock

The Shamrock is a huge symbol of Ireland and it’s known worldwide. On Saint Patrick’s day, the Shamrock is displayed all over the world as a symbol of Ireland. Shamrock goes all over Ireland in our many lush green fields!

The Shamrock symbolized the Druid symbol of three shaped leaves representing the Triad. The story goes that the great Saint Patrick used the shamrock to symbolise and explain the three parts of Holy Trinity. The word Shamrock meaning in Irish is “seamróg” and means young clover. The wearing of Shamrock dates back to the 17th century. The famous shamrock is one of Ireland iconic images!

The Triskelion

This cool Celtic symbol is really old and dates back to the Neolithic period, around 3000 years ago. The symbol is also known as the Triskele, and it has featured on many coins and old artefacts in Europe and all over Ireland. The design features three spiral parts and the Celts believed that all things of three are important.

The Triskelion features in many Celtic jewellery pieces and is seen the New-grange in County Meath Ireland. The Triskelion is seen in Greece and has been dated to the Bronze age period. The turning design is almost like a labyrinth design, curling and twisting.

The Irish Harp

The harp is all over Ireland. It’s one of our national symbols it’s not a Celtic symbol. The Harp is an Irish musical instrument! Its features in our coins, Guinness use the Harp. The Harp is the national emblem of the Emerald Isle.

The Harp is widely used in Ireland and its one iconic image of Ireland and the Harp is shown in many books and Irish artefacts. Its is believed the High King Brian Boru was a very good player of the Harp and his musical skills were held in high esteem. The harp has a long history in Irish music and culture.

The Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring is a piece of jewellery designed with two hands holding a heart with a crown. This traditional Irish ring has a special meaning, it embodies love, loyalty and friendship. The hearts stands for love, the hands for friendship and the crown symbolises loyalty.

The Claddagh ring is available in a few different types of gold and silver, its sold in many jewellery shops in Ireland and all over the world online. It is believed the ring was named after the small fishing village Claddagh in Galway.

The ring is worn in different ways for single people and people in relationships. If you are engaged you will wear the ring on your left hand with the heart facing towards your fingers. Single people will wear the Claddagh ring on their right hand with the tip of the shiny heart facing inwards towards there fingers.

Check out my Ireland Travel Guide post here!

I hope you find this article useful, I welcome any questions or suggestions by email to info@allthings-ireland.com.


John C

All Things Ireland

John C

Hey, my name is John Conway and I love travelling around Ireland. I have a passion for All Things Ireland. I love the Emerald Isle! I love Guinness and green fields!

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