Irish Influence on Modern Culture – Literature, Music, and Jewelry

The Irish storytelling tradition is rich with spirituality, mythology, and history: even today, the Irish people carry on the traditions of their ancestors, when contributing to the arts. Specifically, many examples of Irish influence in books, music, and jewelry design can be found today, as the popularity of Irish symbols and traditional songs and stories continues to intrigue and influence new generations.

Worldwide, the Irish are linked with Christianity, and with poetry, music and design that capture the link between the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. While many outside Ireland may view the country as the home of fictional leprechauns and pots of gold, the true symbols of this nation are less lighthearted in nature: they are sincere symbols of faith and loyalty that have endured since the fifth century.

Common, ancient symbols of Ireland are the Celtic Crosses that dot churchyards and monasteries all over the country, as well as the intricate knot work that decorates sacred texts, such as the Irish Book of Kells. More well known globally is the revered Shamrock, used by Saint Patrick to convert the ancient Irish populations to Christianity.

These symbols remain popular choices today for Irish artisans, who may add a modern sensibility to their designs, while creating jewelry that utilizes these traditional symbols. Here are some modern examples of literature, music and Celtic jewelry designs, where the past and the present meet, forming a stunning hybrid of now and then.

Irish Influence in Literature

Irish authors rely on the traditions of the past to bring their works of fiction and autobiography to life for modern readers. Poignant stories such as Angela’s Ashes, and ‘Tis, by renowned writer Frank McCourt, incorporate the traditional religious beliefs and cultural mores of Ireland for a new generation.

Modern Irish poets, such as William Butler Yeats, used the myths and stories of ancient Ireland to give their verses power and resonance. Poet Seamus Heaney also references ancient Ireland in his modern verse. Many poetry anthologies, such as Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology , edited by Patrick Crotty, group together fine examples of new world verse that takes it cue from the stories and beliefs of the past.

Irish Influence in Music

Irish musicians look to the past when they compose music, even if they do not play traditional Irish folk music. For example, modern rock band The Hothouse Flowers used traditional Irish instruments, including the bodhran, to add an authentic Irish feel to their compositions. Best-selling musicians U2, and Enya, also rely on certain elements of traditional Irish music when composing their tunes. Sinead O’Connor’s classic album, The Lion and The Cobra, used many elements of Irish traditional music, but with a darker edge that made it her own.

Irish Influence in Jewelry Design

The ancient people of Ireland were known throughout the world for their exquisite metalwork. The master craftsmen of ancient Ireland were felt to have attained the highest level of artistry in metalwork. A notable example of an Irish relic that used intricate craftsmanship of gold, silver, and precious jewels is the Ardagh Chalice, with its traditional Celtic spirals and warrior symbols.

Today, Irish jewelry designers utilize similar spirals, traditional knot work, and other common symbols of ancient Irish culture, to create pieces of great beauty and meaning. For example, you may find pendants, earrings, and rings in gold and silver that feature delicate Trinity Knots, or Celtic Crosses.