Celtic and Irish symbols
The Shamrock is a three leaved clover that grows in Ireland. It is said that while Patrick was preaching an open-air sermon on the Holy Trinity, an old Druid began to heckle him, ridiculing the idea that the three divine beings could somehow be one. Patrick plucked a shamrock and, holding it aloft, replied, "Just as the three leaves of the Shamrock are separate yet part of the whole so it is with the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Today wearing the Shamrock is an integral part of Saint Patrick's Day celebrations.
Based on the ancient lyre, the Irish harp is one of the world's oldest instruments. The Harp motif commemorates the rich legacy of the Bardic tradition. For a thousand years, in his multifaceted role as a poet and storyteller, teacher and historian, guardian of the law and of the sacred rituals, the Bard was revered throughout Celtic society as a man of wisdom. The ancient Irish kings employed harpists to entertain them. At one point in Irish history conquering invaders made it illegal to posses an Irish harp and set out to burn every harp in Ireland in an attempt to kill the "Irish spirit". Successors to the Bards, wandering poets and storytellers played a unique role of preserving and nurturing our Celtic Identity. Today, greatly honored, the harp is the national emblem of Ireland.
Perhaps the best-known of all Celtic motifs the spiral dates back to the 5,000 year old tomb complex at Newgrange. It is thought originally to have symbolised the Eternal Cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth. In later times it came to represent the Great Goddess and her threefold manifestation of virgin, mother and crone. It was a much-favoured ornamental device used in the Christian Golden Age and remains a unique symbol of our Celtic Heritage
The simplest of Celtic Knots symbolizing a triune God. For the Celts everything came in threes, maid, mother, crone & the three elements earth, fire, and water. Christianity embraced this knot to symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in many of the early Christian illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. The use of the Trinity knot in jewellery design is associated with eternity and eternal love.
16th century legend tells of Richard Joyce from Claddagh, Co. Galway, who was captured by Moor pirates and enslaved. In captivity he became a master of his trade (Goldsmith). His skilful hands shaped a unique ring for the woman he could never forget at home. After eight years he was released. He returned to Ireland , to his great joy, her heart remained his, never to be separated again. The Claddagh Ring is a great traditional wedding ring, known the world over. Today it is commonly accepted that the joining hands, heart and crown represent a perpetual bond of friendship, love and loyalty. Wearing a Claddagh ring with the heart pointing out signifies the wearer is unattached if the heart is pointing in towards wearer’s own heart, then that heart is taken.
The most common of the multi- spirals is the triple spiral or Triskele, which for Christians represents the Holy Trinity, for the Celts the three stages of the feminine life cycle, maiden, mother, and old wise woman. The Celtic Spiral is probably the oldest symbol of human spirituality and the most commonly recognized Celtic design motif. It has become a powerful symbol for creation and growth. It appears on a myriad of ancient artifacts, as well as on stone monuments such as Newgrange, in Ireland. It is uncertain what the religious significance was to the pagans of Newgrange, It may have been used simply for decoration, but it probably had some connection with the sun. It was a much favoured ornamental device used in the Christian Golden Age and remains a unique symbol of our Celtic heritage, with many modern interpretations.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life symbol can be found in many cultures including that of the Ancient Celts (Druids.) The Celtic Tree of Life depicts the forces of nature which converge together to create harmony,unity & balance of the universe. Celts believed the Tree of Life or Crann Bethadh to be the symbol of ‘Creator’ which provided food, warmth & shelter. Celtic people attribute qualities such as wisdom, strength, longevity, prosperity, abundance & protection to the Tree of Life, the design of which has roots & branches that are interwoven to form an endless knot, representing eternity & the timelessness of nature.
The subtle merging of cultures characterising the ancient Celtic Church is brilliantly represented in the Celtic Cross. Here the Sun Wheel, symbol of the eternal cycle of life, death and the rebirth is joined with the Christian Cross symbol of the risen Christ. It is believed that St. Patrick combined the symbol of Christianity, a cross, with the symbol of the sun, to give pagan followers an idea of the importance of the cross by linking it with the idea of the life-giving properties of the sun. To this day, at dozens of monastic sites throughout these islands, these exquisitely carved monuments bare silent testimony to the deep faith and bold artistry of their creators.
The simple, yet profound, beauty of the unbroken line, forming delicately complex patterns of weaves and knots, perfect in their symmetry, permeates all of the great achievements of Celtic art. The interlacing lines of the Celtic Knot stands for "no beginning, no ending, the continuity of everlasting love and binding together or intertwining of two souls or spirits. Christianity has embraced much of the ancient Celtic symbolism and has not had adapted many Celtic Knots into high crosses and illuminated manuscripts.
Representing the Newgrange Tomb, spiral symbol is our connection to the past Triple Knot Triple Knot symbolises eternity and continuity.