Celtic Legends, Ireland, Irish Traditions, St. Patricks Day

An Overview of the Irish Celtic Cross’s Origins, Symbolism, and Meanings

The Celtic Cross is well-known as a representation of Irish culture across the world.
Discover more about the beautiful stone monuments’ distinguishing characteristics, origin, history, functions, symbolism, and significance.

Ireland’s countryside is peppered with crosses.

If you have traveled on vacation or visiting family to the lovely Emerald Isle then a Celtic stone cross is likely to be seen on your travels across the stunning Irish countryside. Symbolic of Ireland and everything Irish, Celtic crosses may be seen in nearly all of the country’s 32 counties. Celtic cross jewelry and other ornamental arts, both ancient and modern, pay homage to these exquisite stone crosses.

A Look at the Celtic Cross’ Symbolism and Meaning

Many people point to the cross’s form as the distinctive characteristic of the Celtic Cross.
The ring strengthens the cross structurally by supporting the cross’s arms.
This has led some researchers to believe that this cross’s shape is a continuation of an earlier, more delicate one.

As well as representing an angelic halo, others believe it signifies the sun or some other celestial body, such as Jupiter. The early Catholic missionaries and St. Patrick himself, according to Christian and Celtic mythology, both failed miserably in their efforts to win over the Celts to Christianity.

These Are the Four Unique Characteristics of the Celtic Cross

It is estimated that Ireland’s oldest high stone crosses date from the 8th to 12th centuries. Intricate carvings may be seen on the crosses themselves, with the earliest showing knot-work and the most recent incorporating biblical narrative and inscriptions. They dominate the Irish countryside and are awe-inspiring. Most early crosses are no more than eight feet tall, although some later ones are considerably higher. At 23 feet, the highest point, it’s intimidating. These ancient Celtic Crosses have a number of unique characteristics despite their wide range in Celtic cross design.

  • The Foundation: which may or may not be present. Usually a pyramid form, although it can also be carved to give the cross more height.
  • The Shaft: a cylindrical structure divided into panels on both sides, each containing a different design or piece of artwork representing a different character.
  • The Cap: Often absent, the Cap is a decorative element found on the cross’s upper arm.
  • The Head: You have your head, which is split into a core and several arms. To identify them, stone Celtic crosses commonly have a ring-shaped center on their heads.

What was the purpose of the Celtic Cross?

We’ll never know for sure why ancient humans began constructing such massive stone structures in the first place! High Crosses, also known as Celtic Crosses, are frequently seen at or near significant monasteries. Many were used for preaching, teaching Scripture, prayer, and penance, thus it’s possible they were utilized to demarcate boundaries or specific areas of the monastery. The more ornately carved crosses might have been an indication of the monastery’s riches and power. Many crosses are devoted to a particular event or patron saint, such as St. Patrick, or the Irish High Kings, who are remembered on them.

Celtic Jewelry, Celtic Legends, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions, Irish Wit & Wisdom, St. Valentine's Day

The Romantic Translation of Mo Anam Cara: Pronunciation and Meaning of Mo Anam Cara

Mo Anam Cara translates loosely as “My Soul Mate” or “My Soul Friend

Many people believe that the phrase Mo Anam Cara is translates to ‘my soul mate‘ but its accurately translates as ‘my soul friend‘ as anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara the Gaelic word for friend.

How do you pronounce Mo Anam Cara and Anam Cara?

Mo Anam Cara is pronounced (muh aun-im-KAHR-ah) .

Anam Cara or Anamchara is pronounced (aun-im-KAHR-ah]

The ancient Celts believed in a soul that radiated about the body. They believed that when two individuals formed a deep and lasting bond that their souls would mingle. Therefore, each person could be said to have found their “anam cara“, or “soul friend“.

What does Anam Cara mean?

Anam is Gaelic for ‘soul’, and cara is Gaelic for ‘friend’. To say ‘my soul friend’ you would say mo anam cara.’ The phrase comes from the Celtic belief that souls can be connected spiritually, and can create a strong bond. Anam cara can be used to describe a friendship and a love between family, friends and partners.

It is said that there is a Celtic belief that when two souls share a unique connection they are stronger together than they are apart.

There is an existing compound word known as anamchara that literally means “soul friend.” But this really doesn’t work as “soulmate” in either definition.

Anamchara is traditionally used to refer to one’s confessor or spiritual advisor.  Originally, it was used to refer to the spiritual advisor a young monk would be assigned when he joined the monastery.

Mo Anam Cara Trinity Band by The Irish Jewelry Company

Mo Anam Cara Jewelry

Aran Infinity Claddagh Ring

Mo Anam Cara jewelry is featured in a variety of jewelry styles such Irish rings, pendants, bracelets, and brooches in various precious metals such as Gold and Silver. It is also since as an inscription on or hidden as a romantic message inside claddagh rings and Celtic wedding bands. Mo Anam Cara jewelry makes an ideal gift for that very special person in your life.

Celtic Jewelry, Celtic Legends, Interesting Stories, Ireland, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions

The Irish Harp: The True Emblem of Ireland

Most people if asked what is the symbol of Ireland would probably answer the shamrock. But they would absolutely be wrong. The true symbol of Ireland is the ancient Irish harp.

The Irish Harp Pendant by The Irish Jewelry Company

The National Symbol of Ireland

The Irish Harp is the national symbol of Ireland. The traditional instrument is featured on Irish coins, the Presidential Seal, the Irish passport and the Irish coat of arms. Scholars have found that the Irish harp’s popularity with the Irish people dates back to the 1500’s. However the Irish Harp can only be considered the national symbol of Ireland when it’s in ‘left facing’ form.

Only a left facing harp is the registered symbol of Ireland, why is that you ask? Blame that beloved Irish beverage company Guinness. In 1922, when Irish officials tried to register the harp as the national trademark, they were advised it could only register the rights to a left facing harp because Guinness had already registered a right facing harp as the Guinness mark and had been trading under it since 1862!

Irish Brooch by The Irish Jewelry Company

The Celtic Harp

The Celtic harp is a wire strung instrument with a triangular frame. The Celtic harp also known as the Irish Harp is traditional to Ireland and Scotland. It is known as cláirseach in Irish Gaelic and clàrsach in Scottish Gaelic. The Celtic harp is an ancient instrument associated with the ruling class and required skill and much practice to play.

The Royal Harp for for an Irish King

Trinity College’s Trinity Harp

Ireland’s national emblem is actually based on the Brian Boru Harp. Irish legend says Brian Boru played the harp the night before the Battle of Clontarf. This Irish harp is also known as the Trinity Harp, and is on display in Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room. You know the place. Its the beautifully dramatic old library of Trinity College that holds a collection of 200,000 the oldest books with the gorgeous barrel ceiling used in numerous movie scenes.

Celtic Legends, Ireland, Irish Wit & Wisdom

Six Fascinating Mysterious Celtic Women of Irish Folklore

Mysterious Celtic woman

Ancient Irish folklore has many stories of beautiful and strong Irish women of the past. Celtic women have often been depicted as holding positions of great importance, and highly valued in a very male dominated Celtic tribal society. Irish women have been venerated as a goddesses, saints, as warriors even royalty and at the same time they have been portrayed as someone to fear. I am sure the truth about ancient Irish women in Irish mythology and folklore lies somewhere between fantasy and reality.   

Grace O’Malley, the 16th Century Pirate Queen of Ireland…

Grace O’Malley was born in Ireland in around 1530. She was the daughter of Owen O’Malley. O’Malley was a wealthy nobleman and sea trader. When O’Malley died Grace inherited his large shipping and trading business. Grace O’Malley commanded a dozen ships and thousands of men. Grace’s vast empire of ships stretched from Connaught on the Irish coast to Africa. Through the daring of her piracy, Grace nearly bankrupted the English treasury-and her outright defiance brought embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth I.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day or ITLAPD is on September 19. It is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, U.S. Remember Grace O’Malley on September 19th, International Talk Like a Pirate Day and give her an Arghhhh!

Aoife, the Wife of King Lir and the Children of Lir….

The Children of Lir… Long ago there lived a King named Lir who lived with his four children, Fionnuale, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn and his beloved wife who would son die. After grieving for his wife King Lir married Aoife. Aoife was very jealous of King Lir’s love for his four children. She used her magic to turn the children into swans. As swans they were condemned to spend 300 years at Lough Derravaragh, 300 years at the Sea of Moye and 300 years on the waters of Irrus Domann. The only way to break the spell was a blessing from a monk. Finally, after 900 years of suffering they heard church bells and returned to shore. There the spell was finally broke by St. Patrick. Unfortunately, they were so old they died soon after the spell was broken and joined their parents in heaven. The story of the Children of Lir is one about the strength of the parental child bond.

The Legendary Irish Princess Isolde …

The Irish princess, Iseult of Ireland (also Iseult La Belle or Iseult la Blonde, “Iseult the Fair”), is the daughter of King Anguish of Ireland and Queen Iseult the Elder. She is a main character in the Tristan poems of Béroul, Thomas of Britain, and Gottfried von Strassburg and in the opera Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner. Iseult is first seen as a young Irish princess who heals Tristan from his wounds.

According to Arthurian legend, Iseult (also “Isolde”) was the adulterous lover of Sir Tristan. Sir Tristan was a handsome Knight of the Round Table. Iseult was an Irish Princess who fell hopelessly in love with Tristan. But Sir Tristan was sent on behalf the King of Cornwall to win Iseult’s hand in marriage for King Mark of Cornwall. This romantic tragedy was used as the basis of “Tristan and Isolde” by Richard Wagner, an acclaimed opera.

The Banshee …

The Banshee, bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list.


Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron, or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain.) She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washerwoman and is seen apparently washing the blood-stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman).
Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.

The Two Brigids; the Saint and the Goddess

Saint Brigid – The Patron Saint of Ireland …

Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares her name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated. St. Brigid, also known as “Mary of the Gael“, is a patroness Saint of Ireland. Born the daughter of a powerful Irish Chieftain St. Bridget or also spelled Brigid became a nun completely devoted to relieving the misery and hardship of the poor.

The Saint Brigid’s Cross

The traditional woven cross is said to have originated during a visit St. Bridget made to a dying Chieftain in which she wove it from rushes on the floor to show the significance of Christian faith. The woven rush cross has become synonymous with St. Bridget known as the Saint Brigid’s Cross.

Saint Brigid is also the Patron Saint of the LAOH. The LAOH stand for THE LADIES ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish order, and it was organized in The United States of America in New York City in the year of 1836. Her feast day, known as St. Brigid’s day is February first.

Celtic Goddess Brigid…

The Celtic Goddess Brigid is an Irish goddess of spring, dating back to pre- Christian Ireland.  She is a venerated deity whose name means exalted one derived from ancient Gaelic word brig.  Her name is also said as Brighid or Brighit. Brigid is the daughter of the Dagda, and therefore one of the Tuatha de Dannan. The Tuatha Dé Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, also known by the earlier name Tuath Dé “tribe of the gods”, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland. She is known as the Goddess of Healers, Poets, Smiths, Childbirth, and is the Inspiration for the Goddess of Fire and Hearth and a patron of warfare or Briga. Brigid said to be gentle, yet she is extraordinarily strong and stern.  

Celtic Legends, Claddagh Rings, Ireland, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions

The Romantic Story of the Claddagh Ring an Irish Symbol of Love, Loyalty and Friendship

Panorama of the Claddagh in Galway city, Ireland.

The Claddagh ring is a famous Irish ring with a love story that transcends time. The story of the Claddagh Ring is one of enduring love that began long, long ago in 1675 in the small fishing village of Claddagh in County Galway, Ireland. It all began when a young lad by the name Richard Joyce. The Joyce family is one of the famous Tribes of Galway. An Irish fisherman who was very much in love with an enchanting Irish lass he was hoping to one day betroth. Unfortunately he was captured at sea by pirates from Algeria. The wicked pirates sold Richard Joyce for a hefty sum into slavery. As luck would have it in an Irish sort of way Richard Joyce was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him in his highly skilled craft to be an accomplished goldsmith. So impressed with his skill his captor made him his apprentice.

It is said it was during his time of servitude that he saved tiny scraps of metal and created the claddagh ring for his love whom he hoped had waited for him. Thus the claddagh ring was born.

The claddagh ring is a type of fede ring from Roman times. A fede ring is one with two hands holding a heart to symbolize friendship and love. Richard Joyce added the crown to the design to symbolize his eternal loyalty to his true love.

In 1689 the King of England, William the Third persuaded the Algerians to release all enslaved subjects. Soon Richard Joyce was able to return to Ireland and the tiny fishing village of Claddagh to be reunited with family and friends. To his joy he soon discovered after all his years of servitude his true love had waited for his to return.

And just like that with a few hundred years of embellishment and a wee bit of the telephone game at play the romantic story of the Claddagh Ring was born. Now there are several variation’s of the claddagh ring legend but we think this version of the myth is most recognizable world wide. There are even more variations on the Claddagh ring design. Some early designs from over 200 years ago depict the claddagh with a narrow or slender heart. Other older design depict the hands as more pronounced and firmly grabbing the heart.

Today there are many interpretations of the beloved Claddagh Ring design that began in the 1600’s. Reputable online Irish jewelers like The Irish Jewelry Company, world famous for their unique Irish jewelry and Claddagh Rings offer a huge selection to choose from. There are Celtic Knot Claddagh Rings, Trinity Claddagh RingsIrish Claddagh RingsMothers Claddagh Rings and so much more just to name a few.

The romantic Irish Claddagh ring design that can be expressed in so many different ways. Which one of our Claddagh rings is just right for you?

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Jewelry, News

Have you Ever Heard of the Legend of the Celtic Cat?

The Legend of the Celtic Cat

In Celtic folklore there is a magical set of cats or “fairy cats”. In Scotland they are known as the cait sith. In Ireland they are called cait sidhe. Whether Gaelic or Scotch Gaelic they are both pronounced as “caught shee”. The cait sidhe aren’t your ordinary felines, they are thought as fairies, even witches, and as spirit creatures that merely take the form of a cat. Those that have seen them describe them as being unusually large, all black cats with a spot of white fur on their chest. Generally, the cait sidhe is viewed as fearsome and was used as a symbol by Celtic warriors.

Our Celtic Cat Pendant is absolutely purrrr-fect! This beautifully diamond accented Celtic Cat Pendant with black enamel pays tribute to the cait sidhe. The cait sidhe is a mythical fairy creature in Scottish and Irish folklore.

Read more about Celtic Halloween Origins, Samhain Traditions, and Halloween Superstitions online at The Irish Jewelry Company.

Shop Halloween Celtic jewelry like the Celtic Cat Pendant , Celtic Fairy Pendant and the Celtic Owl Jewelry at The Irish Jewelry Jewelry Company

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions, News

The Celtic Origins of Halloween and Halloween Traditions

As children and adults around the world take part in the spooky festivities of Halloween on the night of October 31st, All Hallows Eve, few know of its ancient Irish Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival.

Read more about Celtic Halloween Origins, Samhain Traditions, and Halloween Superstitions online at The Irish Jewelry Company.

Shop Halloween jewelry like the Celtic Cat Pendant , Celtic Fairy Pendant and the Celtic Owl Jewelry at The Irish Jewelry Jewelry Company

Irish Halloween Traditions and Halloween Origins. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.theirishjewelrycompany.com/irish_halloween_traditions_halloween_origins.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Irish Traditions

The Feast of Saint Brigid – The Patron Saint of Ireland

Ireland’s very own patron saint St. Brigid’s Feast Day is February 1st also as Imbolc.

So what is Imbolc

Imbolc or Imbolg, is a Gaelic festival that traditional marks the start of warmer days and the arrival of spring.  It also the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Saint Brigid of Kildare is Ireland’s most important female saints. Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares her name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

saint brigid banner new site banner

Who was Saint Brigid of Kildare?

St. Brigid, also known as “Mary of the Gael”, is a patroness Saint of Ireland. Born the daughter of a powerful Irish Chieftain St. Bridget or also spelled Brigid became a nun completely devoted to relieving the misery and hardship of the poor. The traditional woven cross is said to have originated during a visit St. Bridget made to a dying Chieftain in which she wove it from rushes on the floor to show the significance of Christian faith. The woven rush cross has become synonymous with St. Bridget.

Saint Brigid is also the Patron Saint of the LAOH. The LAOH stand for THE LADIES ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish order and it was organized in The United States of America in New York City in the year of 1836.

What is the Meaning of the Saint Brigid’s Cross?

The Irish tradition of weaving a St. Brigid’s cross is one that endures to among the people of Ireland. The Irish legend of the Saint Brigid cross is tied to the saving action of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary. Irish myth states that the St. Brigid cross wards off fire, hunger, and evil away from homes that hang it in various places. This is why St. Brigid Crosses are typical hung near house hold entrance ways.

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

The Origins of Halloween Costumes

On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. ‘Help the Halloween Party’ and ‘Trick or Treat’ were the cries to be heard at each door.

This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumehalloween kidss to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the end of the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the most popular choices for the costumes.

 

Read more about Celtic Halloween Traditions and Origins. Shop Irish Halloween Gifts.

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

The Dullahan, the Irish Headless Horseman

Have you ever heard about “The Dullahan”, the Irish Headless Horseman?

The Irish legend of the Dullahan, or English translation “dark man” is unnerving. The AdobeStock_56147609.jpegHeadless Horseman or Dullahan is the Irish foreteller of death. The Dullahan rides a jet black horse with flames shooting from its eyes, carrying his head under one arm. Irish folklore says that when he stops riding, a human dies.
There are many versions of this scary tale. Some say that the Dullahan throws buckets of blood at people he passes, while other say he simply calls out the name of the mortal that will soon die.


But as with most evil entities the Dullahan has a weakness. The Dullahan can not stand the sight of GOLD. So you would be wise when traveling on this Halloween to carry a wee bit of in case you have a run-in with this headless horror!

Read more about Celtic Halloween Traditions and Origins. Shop Irish Halloween Gifts.