A Fun Guide To Irish Symbols In Popular Culture

Once you’ve become immersed in the symbols and lore of the Emerald Isle, you will start to recognize little touches of Ireland in the world around you. While Irish jewelry designs feature some of the most exquisite renderings of Celtic interlace and other popular symbols, they are not the only place you will discover such designs. In today’s world, these symbols can appear almost anywhere. Here is a fun guide to some examples of Irish symbolism in popular culture:

  • The HarpGuinness Draught Beer

The tradition of lively, lilting music and dance is a key component of Irish cultural history. From Medieval times onward, the Harp has been used by Irish musicians to express a prismatic range of emotions; its many strings allow for layers of nuance and a distinctive sound. In past centuries, the Irish Harp was always placed upon the left shoulder, so that it covered the heart. Today, the Irish Harp appears on every bottle of Guinness beer, the thick, dark stout produced in Dublin. Funnily enough, reports have surfaced that the barley-based brew is good for the heart.

  • The Claddagh – The Best Of Simple Minds

In the Eighties, the Scottish rock band, Simple Minds, were at the height of their popularity. They rose to fame with their sixth album, Sparkle In The Rain, produced by Steve Lillywhite (of U2 fame). However, their biggest hit, Don’t You Forget About Me, was actually written by someone else. It appeared on the Breakfast Club soundtrack, and it became one of the anthems of the era. For Simple Mind’s greatest hits compilation, they chose the romantic symbols of the Irish Claddagh for their cover art. Today, the Claddagh Ring, with its signature crowned heart motif, is often used as a token and love and affection.

  • Celtic Interlace – Tattoos

The popularity of Celtic tattoos featuring classical knot work has never been greater. The timeless appeal of interlace lies in its intricate beauty and its inherent symbolism. The lines of Celtic knot work have no beginning and no end. They are a symbol of life force and eternity. Many celebrities have chosen tattoos featuring interlace and other related symbols, such as Celtic Crosses. The lead singer of rock band Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan, sports a Celtic tattoo, in emerald green ink, on his left shoulder. Former Spice Girl Melanie C. also chose a Celtic tattoo design.

  • Leprechauns and Shamrocks – Notre Dame Football Team Jerseys

The pugnacious Irish fellow displayed on the team blanket above is a symbol of The Fighting Irish, Notre Dame University’s football team. They also use a Shamrock motif on their merchandise. But why did an Indiana University choose the symbols of Ireland for its squad? The stories vary, but it believed that during a Notre Dame-Michigan game in the late 18 th century, one player yelled out the following admonishment to his teammates: “What’s the matter with you guys? You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick.”

As you can see, the presence of Irish symbols is alive and well in the modern world. How many other symbols can you find in the world around you?

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