Giving a traditional Irish gift can be great fun for the giver and for the recipient. The rich Irish cultural tradition has given rise to all manner of exquisite folk art and crafts, music, and poetry.
If someone you care about is of Irish ancestry, a gift from Ireland itself will be thoughtful and meaningful. He or she will find it satisfying to connect with the past through the symbols and stories of Ireland.
Choosing the right Irish present will require a little understanding of the popular symbols used in today’s arts and crafts. If you are considering a gift of Irish jewelry, such as a Shamrock pendant, you may wonder what the trefoil (three-leaf) design really means. We’ve compiled a quick guide to the most common symbols you will find on today’s designs. We’ve also put together a few great suggestions for gift ideas.
Common Irish Symbols
The Shamrock – Saint Patrick used the little green plant, with its 3 leaves, to illustrate the presence of God in the natural world. Each leaf represented a part of the Holy Trinity. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit were symbolized in each segment of the Shamrock. This timeless symbol of faith is recognized all over the world as uniquely Irish.
The Claddagh Crowned Heart– The Claddagh Crowned Heart appears most often on traditional rings, pendants and earrings. It can also be found on crafts, in coffee table books on Celtic art, and even on CD covers. The Claddagh Crowned Heart is a symbol of romantic fidelity and undying love.
An Irish fisherman crafted the first Claddagh Ring, known as the Royal Claddagh Ring. He was a slave, who had been captured while working at sea, far from his native Ireland. He made the ring, which also featured two tiny hands, holding onto a crowned heart, to show his loyalty to the woman he left behind. Eventually, he was reunited with her.
Interlace – Knot work patterns are a prominent feature in Irish art treasures, such as The Book Of Kells, which depicts stories from the Gospel. Knot work, or interlace, is thought to symbolize the interconnectedness of all things. It appears today in a number of forms. One popular example of knot work is the Trinity Knot, which, much like the Shamrock, illustrates the Holy Trinity.
Fun Irish Gift Ideas
- Music – From the atmospheric sounds of Enya, to the driving rock of U2, to the more adult-oriented sound of The Corrs, modern Irish music really displays an awesome scope of sounds and styles. If you prefer traditional Irish music, consider instrumental CD’s featuring the pan flute and bodhrain, two Irish instruments that offer a unique sound. Search iTunes under Celtic or Irish music, or ask music store staff what is popular.
- Claddagh Jewelry – A classic Claddagh Ring is a truly Irish gift that also features handcrafted quality. A Claddagh Ring made in Ireland will be a token of affection that is worn and treasured for a lifetime. You can also find Claddagh Pendants and earrings, to make a matched set.
- Books – A coffee table book, perhaps on The Book Of Kells, or on Celtic and Irish symbolism, will be a great present for someone with Irish ancestry. Many of these books offer gorgeous, full-color illustrations of the symbols we’ve talked about here.
- Shamrocks – There are many fun ways to give the Shamrock! One fun idea would be a Shamrock planter, which often features a shamrock-shaped base as well. Giving living Shamrocks to someone of Irish background will be a touching way to honor their heritage. If you want a really stunning gift, add a diamond Shamrock pendant, and give it along with the planter.