Celtic Jewelry, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions

Five Most Admired Irish Symbols in Jewelry Loved Worldwide

The Irish Jewelry Company Collection

Irish jewelry is steeped in Irish tradition and Celtic symbolism. It is full of mysticism and deep spiritual meaning, representing love, life cycles and faith.  Irish symbols in Irish jewelry can be traced back directly folklore’s told through the centuries and ancient Celtic manuscript drawings. The popularity of Irish jewelry around the world has really taken off in recent years as many people taken an interest in the deeper meaning of talismans, objects of faith and symbols of life.  Irish jewelry isn’t just for the Irish anymore.

The Celtic Tree of Life

The Celtic Tree of Life meaning varies. Rebirth is one of the most popular meanings for the Tree of Life.  The belief stems from theory that trees experiences renewal throughout the changing of the seasons. Its leaves fall in autumn and regrow in spring is symbolic of rebirth. Another meaning of the Celtic Tree of Life is that it is also a symbol of wisdom and strength. The most sacred of trees was the oak, called ‘daur’ in Celtic.  It is where the modern word ‘door’ is derived. So, the oak tree, literally would have been the door to the other world.

Celtic Cross Meaning

The Celtic cross is a cross with equal rays, enclosed in a circle. The rays can slightly protrude outside the circle. Sometimes a Celtic ornament is located along the cross and in a circle. Although this form of the cross is inherent in many ancient peoples, including the Slavs, the cross in a circle is firmly established in the minds of people as Celtic.

The Christian interpretation of the cross is simple: the circle means eternity and union, and the cross itself means the love and sacrifice. It is difficult to say how the ancient Celts themselves interpreted this symbol: there is no information about this. But historians suggest that the cross as understood by the ancient Celts could symbolize fertility, abundance, and protection. It is also called the solar symbol because its facets suggest the unity of earth, air, sun and water.

Nowadays, the  Celtic cross is worn by both Christians and pagans: it is not tied to a particular religion, and different denominations perceive it as a symbol of their spiritual views.

Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh Ring is a legendary jewelry item that epitomizes timeless values. The legacy design cues hands on either side of a heart and a crown on top. The classic Claddagh ring shows the wearer’s family situation. Thus, a heart looking out the fingertips means you are single, whereas this element pointing towards the wrist means that the owner is taken. Claddagh rings symbolize friendship, love and loyalty.

Today, this ring has a huge number of design variations, but the main three elements have remained intact. This jewelry item is presented to girls and women as a symbol of companionship or as a Claddagh engagement ring.

Trinity Knot also Known as the Irish Love Knot  

The Celtic love knot is a modern-day Irish tradition. Also know as the trinity knot, it is a religious symbol with both pagan and Christians heritage. In Celtic mythology, knots especially Celtic love knots symbolize the sacred geometry of the universe and being. It is customary to give a loved one a gift with the trinity knot, or Celtic Love Knot,  like a necklace or ring, to embody feelings of love.

Celtic Sisters Knot

The Celtic Sisters Knot is a symbol of sisterhood and the strong, eternal bond we share with our sisters and friends. … The stylized triquetra or triple spiral, a sister symbol woven within the Celtic Sisters Knot heart symbolizes the three stages of woman.

Where are you and your sisters on the spiral of life? Celebrate the powerful, lifelong bond of friendship between women with a symbol for sisters. One day we will all be in some part of all 3 stages of life. First, the youth of our childhood. Second, the mothering spirit of our years. Third, our wisdom that we pass on to the new generation of women. We may not all be related, but we all share a bond of love, compassion, and perseverance. There are few symbols for sisters like the Celtic Sisters Knot that captive the soul and beauty of sisterhood.

Celtic Jewelry, Interesting Stories, Irish Jewelry

The Celtic Tree of Life Symbolism and Meaning

The Celtic Tree of Life

In Celtic myth, trees played a central role in daily life. The Celts believed the Irish wooded landscape was full of spirits. They also associated the spirit or heart of the great oak with fertility and centered with wisdom. Often Celtic clans gathered socially underneath the mighty oak to discussing clan issues like a meeting of public officials today. Like Native Americans the Celts revered nature and the cycle of life. They valued their relationship to the earth and gathered within nature in honor of it instead of building great temples of stone. The Celts love of nature and its bond to the earth lead to their many beliefs revolving around trees.

What does the Celtic Tree of Life Symbolize?

The commemorated oak tree also called the Celtic Tree of Life has been an ancient symbol of life, fertility and wisdom revered by many cultures like the Greeks, and Romans in addition to the Celts since ancient times. There are many symbols of the oak tree with spiritual meaning.

Tree of Life in Gaelic

The Celtic tree of life in Gaelic is called “Crann Bethadh”. The Tree of Life is a complex element of Irish culture and customs. The Celtic Tree of Life is amongst one of the most admired and recognizable Celtic symbols. The tree of life symbolically important in both history and religion. It symbolizes faith, the strength of coherence and stability.

The Meaning of the Celtic Tree of Life

The Celtic Tree of Life meaning varies. Rebirth is one of the most popular meanings for the Tree of Life.  The belief stems from theory that trees experiences renewal throughout the changing of the seasons. Its leaves fall in autumn and regrow in spring is symbolic of rebirth. Another meaning of the Celtic Tree of Life is that it is also a symbol of wisdom and strength. The most sacred of trees was the oak, called ‘daur’ in Celtic.  It is where the modern word ‘door’ is derived. So, the oak tree, literally would have been the door to the other world.

The Celtic Tree of Life has been an inspiration to various artists for centuries. Remember that great scene in Game of Thrones. The one where Bran, Hodor and Elllie are in the cave root system of the weirwood tree when Bran was becoming the Three-Eyed Raven?  I believe it was kind of symbolic of the tree of life, the all-knowing tree. Remember then while they were escaping the cave root system, Ellie shouted to Hodor to “hold the door to give them a chance to escape. The words flashed back to the past, causing Wylis to fall to the ground seizing while yelling “hold the door!” repeatable, until brain damage set in and the phrased “Hold Door” slurred into one: “Hodor.” Are you seeing the connection?  

Knowledge of the fundamental meaning of the Tree of Life symbol gives an insight to ancient Celtic. Celtic Tree of Life Knot has roots and branches woven into a Celtic knot together without end, illustrating the uninterrupted cycle of life on earth. The Celtic Tree of Life knot is a popular design for tapestries, throws, Celtic jewelry and tree of life tattoos because of its positive energy.

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.  

Claddagh Rings

History of the Claddagh Ring: 8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know

What do St. Patrick’s Day, the shamrock, and the Celtic knot have in common? They all represent symbols of Ireland’s rich culture.

What do St. Patrick’s Day, the shamrock, and the Celtic knot have in common? They all represent symbols of Ireland’s rich culture.

The Celts began to build their own civilization many centuries ago. They represented a collection of tribes from central Europe that shared religious beliefs, a common language, cultures, and traditions. The Celtic culture began to evolve as early as 1200 B.C. and spread throughout western Europe, with many of their legacies becoming most prominent in Ireland and Great Britain.

One such legacy is the history of the Claddagh ring. It is a symbolic Irish wedding ring that consists of two hands holding a crowned heart.

It is often worn as a symbol of heritage, but it’s more popularly used to define a relationship status, more commonly an engagement or marriage. It is the ultimate symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship that holds a fascinating history. 

Read on to learn some interesting facts about the Claddagh ring’s origins and symbolism.

The Symbolism of Rings

The importance of rings started with the ancient Egyptians. They viewed its circular form as a powerful symbol.

The band represented eternal life and love as it had no end. The opening of the ring represented a path to unknown worlds. Egyptians exchanged rings as signs of loyalty, while the Greeks exchanged them as symbols of endless love.

However, almost 5,000 years ago, the Romans were the first to use the ring as a symbol of matrimony. The fede ring was the most common wedding ring. It depicted two hands clasped together, symbolizing a couple’s agreement to honor and love one another.

These rings were popular in the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Changes in the original design led to the current iteration of the Claddagh Ring.

History of the Claddagh Ring

There are many versions of the story of the first Claddagh ring. One depicts an eagle dropping the ring into the lap of a charitable woman. It was a reward for her good deeds.

The most popular story is from the 17th century and involves Richard Joyce and the love of his life, Margaret. Richard was from Claddagha small village in Ireland, and a fisherman by trade.

Spanish soldiers captured his boat and sold it. They also sold the crew into slavery on the North African coast. Richard was the youngest of the crew and the most affected because he was afraid he would never see Margaret again.

Years passed, and throughout his enslavement, Richard continued to dream of his return to his village and Margaret. He was eventually sold to a goldsmith who began to teach him the trade. Each day, Richard stole a piece of gold and eventually made a ring.

He hoped that one day, he would be able to give it to Margaret. The story isn’t clear as to whether he escaped or was freed, but Richard eventually made it back to Claddagh. He found that Margaret had waited patiently for him.

He presented her with the ring he created, which is now known as the Claddagh ring. Legend has it that his ‘maker’s mark’ or initials were on the earliest known surviving Claddagh ring.

8 Claddagh Ring Facts

The Claddagh ring is a symbol steeped with Irish history. Here are some facts about its origin, meaning, use, and how it has changed over the years.

1. The First Claddagh Ring

The design’s earliest appearance was in 1700 in an Irish fishing village called Claddagh. Claddagh is now a part of the city of Galway. This is where the many versions of Claddagh ring history started. 

2. The Claddagh Ring’s Category

The Claddagh ring is part of a broader category of rings called fede or faith. Mani in Fede is an Italian phrase that means ‘hands joined in fidelity.’ It symbolized a promise of friendship and love.

3. Most Popular Use of the Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring is a popular version of a design used for an Irish wedding ring, vows, and pledges. It dates back to the ancient Romans.

4. Claddagh Ring Meaning

Each element found on the Claddagh ring has significant meaning when used as a wedding ring:

  • The two hands represent friendship
  • The heart represents love
  • The crown represents loyalty

It is why it is considered the ultimate symbol of love and unity.

5. Claddagh Ring Tradition

Poor fishing families kept the Claddagh ring as a symbol of an investment. Mothers passed it on to their daughters or daughters-in-law. The tradition became even more significant in the 19th century when millions of Irish fled to America and Australia seeking a better life.

6. Claddagh Ring Rules

There are simple rules regarding the wearing of the Claddagh ring:

Single and looking for love? – Wear it on the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertip. The heart turned away from the wearer shows that their heart is open to love.

In a relationship? – Wear on the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist. The heart turned inward means the wearer’s heart is taken.

Engaged? – Wear it on the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertip.

Married? – Wear it on the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist.

7. Famous Claddagh Ring Wearers

Princess Grace of Monaco and Queen Victoria are two well-known figures who have worn Claddagh rings. 

The ring was also featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy received it as a present for her 17th birthday, from Angel, her vampire boyfriend. It was a symbol of their everlasting love.

8. A Presidential Gift

Two US presidents received Claddagh rings as gifts when they visited Ireland. John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie received theirs in 1963. The rings were to honor his Irish roots.

Ronald Reagan received his ring in 1984 from the people of Galway.

A Piece of Irish History

Being gifted with a Claddagh ring is a great honor. The traditional design found in any article or story about the history of the Claddagh ring is still popular. However, more modern versions include other Celtic and Irish symbols, such as knots interlacing around the ring band.

The Irish Jewelry Company is the largest online Celtic jewelry store and a leading Irish jeweler. View our beautiful collections to select the perfect piece of jewelry to symbolize Irish culture and tradition.

Irish Jewelry

Friendship, Love and Loyalty: The Claddagh Ring’s Romantic Symbolism

Everyone knows that Galway, Ireland is the birthplace of the Claddagh Ring. However not everyone knows that this romantic symbol of Irish love originated first with the Romans.  

Claddagh Rings are world renowned, and are worn by both men and women, single or taken. Irish Claddagh rings are named for the ancient fishing village of Claddagh, near Galway, Ireland, dating back to the 17th century. The Claddagh ring in Irish is fáinne Chladaigh and is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. The Irish Cladddagh ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century.

The design for the claddagh ring originated with the Roman Empire during the Renaissance period.  The Claddagh ring is really a fede ring and have a long history dating back to Roman times. The name “fede” derives from the Italian phrase mani in fede meaning loosely “hands joined in faith” or “hands joined in loyalty”. The clasped hands were viewed as promise ring used as an engagement ring or wedding ring in medieval and Renaissance Europe. The  Irish Claddagh ring is a version of the fede ring has roots deeply seeded in long standing Irish tradition.

Long ago it was traditional in Ireland for mothers and grandmothers to pass down claddagh rings to their daughters and granddaughters. Today Irish Claddagh Rings are traditional given by a loved one or partner as a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship. These days claddagh rings are given and worn for a variety of reasons:

Claddagh Engagement Rings and Promise

You show your commitment to love your partner with a Claddagh Engagement Ring or promise ring. Traditionally a claddagh engagement ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward to symbolize engagement and pointed inward for marriage. Claddagh engagement rings have proclaiming love, loyalty and friendship for centuries. Truly any Irish Claddagh Ring can be worn as an Irish Promise Ring or Claddagh Engagement Ring.

Friendship and Sisterhood

Sisters and best friends can give each other a claddagh as a symbol of the great friendship, their loyalty y to each and the love that binds them in eternal friendship.

A Symbol of Irish Pride  

Claddagh are often worn by people of Irish heritage as a symbol of Irish pride and to show a genuine love of Ireland. You probably know Irish superstition says it is bad luck to purchase a Claddagh ring for yourself. Everyone knows Irish tradition says a Claddagh Ring must be given as a token of love or received as a gift. But to heck with Irish superstition.

Today’s choices in Claddagh rings and Claddagh Jewelry

Known the worldwide as a sign of love the claddagh symbol has inspired a variety of jewelry designs. The claddagh design can be found in Claddagh inspired bracelets, claddagh earrings, and claddagh necklaces.  So, whether you choice a claddagh necklace or claddagh ring for the special someone you are almost guaranteed they with treasure the symbolic token of love forever.

So, are you ready to shop for that Claddagh Ring? See Claddagh rings and Claddagh Jewelry at The Irish Jewelry Company  

Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions, St. Valentine's Day

The Romantic Irish Tradition of The Claddagh Ring

a claddagh ring

The Claddagh is a legendary jewelry item that epitomizes timeless values. The legacy design cues hands on either side of a heart and a crown on top. The classic Claddagh ring shows the wearer’s family situation. Thus, a heart looking out the fingertips means you’re single, whereas this element pointing towards the wrist means that the owner is taken.

Today, this ring has a huge number of design variations, but the main three elements have remained intact. This jewelry item is presented to girls and women as a symbol of companionship or as a Claddagh engagement ring.

The Story Behind The Claddagh Ring

The Irish Claddagh ring tells a heartwarming romantic story steeped in heritage and life-long affection. This story began a long time ago – three hundred and forty years ago, to be exact.

The protagonist of this most widespread legend is Richard Joyce. One day, he ventured off to what is now known as the North American islands. On his way back, he was going to walk his sweetheart down the aisle, but on the way to Claddagh, his ship was seized by Algerian pirates. 

In those days, pirates tore the blue waters, filling travelers with dread. Many noblemen died in the fight and thousands of merchants lost everything they had earned. Thus, Richard was enslaved and brought to a famous jeweler. He spent in slavery fourteen years. Joyce mastered the jewelry craft to perfection and became an excellent craftsman under his master’s guidance.

Richard kept on dreaming of meeting his bride. This inspired him to create a ring that portrayed two hands holding the heart under the crown.

Later, the goldsmith was set free. However, a Moorish jeweler liked the capable lad and even offered him to tie the knot with his daughter. But Joyce refused since a bride was waiting for him in his homeland. 

When Richard arrived to the motherland, he gave the ring to his faithful girlfriend, who had been waiting for him all these years. They married and settled down in the village. Richard went on to pursue his favorite and lucrative business – he opened his own jewelry workshop. Since then, these rings have sprouted into the local culture.

Although there are different legends circulating about the origin of this item, the romantic history seems the most plausible. The fact remains that the oldest surviving rings bear his trader’s mark, and that a jeweler named Richard Joyce actually existed. It is also interesting that this goldsmith’s mark features an anchor, which is a symbol of hope.

Today, this ring has rightfully taken its place among the cherished Irish wedding traditions and customs alongside with locking of the church door, the make-up beds, and others.

The Bottom Line

Today, the Claddagh is the eternal embodiment of affection and wholeness. The charm of this item is that it can be used as both a promise heirloom and a marriage symbol. So whether you are into the traditions or prefer a more modern stance, this lovely heritage can be worn and adored by everyone.

Irish Traditions

The Celtic Cross: Mysterious Sun Symbol from Ireland

About sixty mysterious crosses with a circle superimposed on them, created before the middle of the XII century, can still be seen over the vast territory of Ireland. Also, such crosses dot thousands of cemeteries not only on the island, but also in England, Wales, Scotland, Europe and other most unpredictable places. The most famous and recognizable symbol of Ireland, the Celtic cross, still disturbs the minds with its mystery and multiple interpretations.

History and Origins

Why Celtic and why is Ireland constantly mentioned along with it? It’s simple: the oldest pieces in the largest quantities were found there. Historians have long believed that the Irish are the descendants of the ancient tribes of the Celts who came to the island from the center of Europe. And now when we say Celts we mean Irish. Of course, the cross was discovered not only in Ireland, but also in England and Scotland. But the primacy in quantity remained with Ireland. Hence the name.

Often called the cross of St. Columbus, it originally served as a guide to sacred places such as cemeteries, churches and monasteries. This symbol began to be depicted in Ireland around the 7th century and for many centuries, with the help of monks, it was actively installed throughout the country.

There is an opinion that such crosses were used as tombstones, but it is wrong. Only from the middle of the 19th century, the Irish who moved to a foreign land began to depict Celtic crosses on tombstones, showing everyone their origin. That is why we can see this symbol in the most remote corners of the world.

Meaning and Symbolism

The Celtic cross is a cross with equal rays, enclosed in a circle. The rays can slightly protrude outside the circle. Sometimes a Celtic ornament is located along the cross and in a circle. Although this form of the cross is inherent in many ancient peoples, including the Slavs, the cross in a circle is firmly established in the minds of people as Celtic.

The Christian interpretation of the cross is simple: the circle means eternity and union, and the cross itself means the love and sacrifice. It is difficult to say how the ancient Celts themselves interpreted this symbol: there is no information about this. But historians suggest that the cross as understood by the ancient Celts could symbolize fertility, abundance, and protection. It is also called the solar symbol because its facets suggest the unity of earth, air, sun and water.

Nowadays, the Celtic cross is worn by both Christians and pagans: it is not tied to a particular religion, and different denominations perceive it as a symbol of their spiritual views.

Modern Distribution

Today the Celtic cross can be found not only in cemeteries and architecture, but generally everywhere in Ireland. Souvenirs, advertising, clothing, key-rings have become an excellent foundation for displaying the famous Irish symbol. And the number of jewelry with a Celtic cross is generally a separate topic for discussion. Celtic cross necklaces, pendants, bracelets, brooches and charms made of sterling silver, gold and even wood are sold in a huge assortment for every taste. 

Celtic Cross Necklace by The Irish Jewelry Company

Many pieces of jewelry are made with different stones, allowing the manufacturer to customize the selection for specific people who prefer individual minerals. Sometimes the cross decoration is complemented by other Celtic designs such as triquetra, triscele and Celtic knot-work, which make them more intricate and interesting. Celtic crosses can also be single or double-sided. Modest and minimalistic, rich and luxurious – everyone can choose what they like best.

Irish Traditions

Valentine’s Day Meaning & History

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The first thing that comes to mind is a heart-shaped box of cheap chocolates that should be directly applied to one’s hips. And then there is that sweet little cupid. He’s an overweight angel aiming a bow and arrow at you to inspire you to fall blissfully in love. I mean, let’s face it. Cupid’s arrow is a weapon that literally and metaphorically could be the death of you. But all jokes aside, do you even know why we actually celebrate Valentine’s Day? I didn’t think so.

What is the meaning of Valentine Day?

The Legend of Saint Valentine
In ancient Rome, the date February 14th was a holiday to honor the Roman Goddess of women and marriage. The next day was celebrated as the pagan Roman Feast of Lupercalia. During this time in Roman history, young adults were strictly segregated by sex. No surprise, it was 269 AD. Eventually they needed to give their hormones a chance to flourish. So it was customary on the eve of the feast of Lupercalia for young men and woman to be partnered for the feast by the men picking the girls’ names from a jar. Sometimes the pairing lasted for a year and with the young couples falling romantically in love and eventually marring. It was all very sexist in a provocative way.

Unfortunately, this didn’t last for long. This euphoric ritual of hormonal teenage partnering would come to an abrupt end during the tyrannical rule of Emperor Claudius II, also known as Claudius the cruel. Emperor Claudius had Rome fighting in many bloody and unpopular battles and was having grave difficulty recruiting soldiers to sustain his military forces. In his warped mind, Claudius believed the reason he couldn’t get soldiers was due to women. He convinced himself that the men’s love of his family, wife, or girlfriend prevented them from leaving there side and joining the military. It had nothing to do with the little matter that they didn’t want to die a savage death for an Emperor they despised.

Fun-loving Emperor Claudius proceeded to cancel all pending and future marriages and engagements in Rome. Claudius then made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians.

Why is Valentine’s Day on February 14th?

Legend has it, no doubt a wee bit embellished if not entirely fictional, that Valentine was stricken with the unbearable belief that many young souls would be destined to be sinners. So Valentine, a roman priest, married young lovers against Claudius’s decree in secrecy. He was of course apprehended and condemned to death for his deeds. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, in either 269 AD or 270 AD. Nobody really knows what yearly exactly, but they know the date was February 14th, now known as Valentine’s Day.

So where is St. Valentine now?

1523930_10153754048730245_1993977392_o

Ireland, duh! What you may not know for some unknown reason is that St. Valentine’s remains are rumored to be buried in Dublin, Ireland. How do you like that wee bit of useless knowledge?

The Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin City claims to hold the remains of St. Valentine. The Carmelites are a small community in the monastery attached to Whitefriar Street Church. Saint Valentine’s remain were given to the Carmelites in 1835 by Pope Gregory XVI.

Oh, the Irish are wonderful folk. They just about have their hands in everything good and pleasurable. Not only did they give us spooktacular holidays like Halloween and fantastic Christmas traditions like the wreath on our on the front doors, but they also house the remains of St. Valentine! The romantic patron saint of lovers whose feast day has become so commercialized it actually makes Christmas seem, well, less commercial by comparison. In any event, Board Failte wouldn’t be doing their job if it didn’t see the Euro signs in the fact that Dublin, Ireland’s capital, is the last resting place of the beloved Saint of Love. It virtually makes Ireland a must-do pilgrimage for lovers. I mean, after all, the Irish did give us the best Valentine’s Day gift of all the claddagh ring, too. The claddagh is the one and only symbol of eternal friendship, love, and loyalty. The story of the claddagh and the claddagh ring is a story for another day or blog. Anyway, its romantic, symbolic meaning makes it a no brainer Valentine’s Day gift for someone to give any lucky partner. Cowinkydink?

Shop Irish at TheIrishJewelryCompany.com

Celtic Holidays, Irish Traditions

Imbolc – Saint Brigid’s Day February 1st

Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Brigid’s Day, and Saint Brigid’s Day is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Saint Brigid’s Day is also called: Lá Fhéile Bríde (Irish), Là Fhèill Brìghde (Scottish Gaelic)

St. Brigid Cross in Two Tone

Saint Brigid’s Day – February 1st

This feast day is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Saint Brigid of Ireland, whose feast day is February 1st, led a fascinating life. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columbia. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered.

Saint Brigid’s Prayer ….

Saint Brigid, You were a woman of peace. You brought harmony where there was conflict. You brought light to the darkness. You brought hope to the downcast. May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious, and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world. Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made. Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary. Strengthen what is weak within us. Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens. May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.

Amen.

What is a St Bridget’s Cross?

This beautiful cross known as a St. Brigid’s Cross is a wonderful tribute to Ireland’s beloved saint. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Saint Patrick. Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

How to make a Saint Brigid’s Cross

Making a Saint Bridget’s Cross is a custom in Ireland. The St Bridget’s Cross is made out of plants called rushes (Juncus effusus) for hanging above the entrances to dwellings to invoke the help of St Bridget in warding off disease. St Bridget’s Day is celebrated on the 1st February each year and the crosses are made at that time. Rushes were traditionally used to make the St Bridget’s Cross. These were collected from wetlands and cut into pieces, 8-12 inches long. Rushes can be hard to get for city dwellers so ordinary paper environmentally friendly drinking straws and rubber are a good substitute to make with children. 

You can watch an IPCC video showing you how to make a cross. Please follow this link.

If You Can’t Get Rushes You Will Need

  • 9 paper environmentally friendly drinking straws
  • 4 small rubber bands

What to Do

  1. Hold one of the straws vertically. Fold a second straw in half as in the diagram.
  2. Place the first vertical straw in the center of the folded second straw.
  3. Hold the center overlap tightly between thumb and forefinger.
  4. Turn the two straws held together 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the second straw are projecting vertically upwards.
  5. Fold a third straw in half and over both parts of the second straw to lie horizontally from left to right against the first straw. Hold tight.
  6. Holding the center tightly, turn the three straws 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the third straw are pointing upwards.
  7. Fold a new straw in half over and across all the staws pointing upwards.
  8. Repeat the process of rotating all the straws 90 degrees counter clockwise, adding a new folded straw each time until all nine straws have been used up to make the cross.
  9. Secure the arms of the cross with elastic bands. Trim the ends to make them all the same length. The St Bridget’s Cross is now ready to hang.
How to Make A St Bridget's Cross

Text, Photographs and Images © Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Bog of Allen Nature Centre, Lullymore, Rathangan, Co. Kildare. Email: bogs@ipcc.ie; Tel: +353-45-860133.

Celtic Holidays, Ireland, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

The Day Of The Wren Known as St Stephen’s Day

Straw Boys

One of Ireland’s unique and darker traditions, celebrated on December 26th, relates to killing a small bird in revenge for betraying St Stephen.
“Hunting the Wren” is an Irish tradition that is believed to pre-date Christian times. It sounds pretty cruel, where basically the tiny bird is captured, killed and tied to a pole. Local musicians and dancers would then dress in garish disguises and go house to house collecting money, food and drink for a party. Woe betide the house that did not donate to the cause – the wren could be buried outside their door which would bring 12 months of bad luck!

St Stephen


King of the Birds or Traitor of Saints??
The wren is considered the ‘King of the Birds’ and is also associated with the old year. It was said that capturing the bird alive would herald in a new and prosperous year. As the king of the birds the wren occupied a prominent position in the druidic pagan religion. Sailors and fishermen believed that those who possessed a wren feather would never be shipwrecked.

Legend has it that the wren was a small feathered traitor, but legend cannot agree if this dubious reputation was earned by betraying a saint’s hiding place, ruining a secret attack by Irish warriors or by being a fairy seductress – all intriguing in their own right.
One version of the story tells that St Stephen was hiding in a bush from his enemies, only for his hiding to be revealed by the chattering of a wren. Another maintains that in the 700s during the Viking troubles, when Irish warriors crept up on the Danes to attack, a little wren beat out a warning by picking crumbs from the drum held by a sleeping Viking. And lastly, there was a fairy woman called Cliona was in the habit of luring local men to a watery grave. She had the power to turn herself into, you’ve guessed it, a wren.

the wren

An Irish St. Stephen’s Day Tradition
The feast of St. Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, is celebrated on December 26th. Connecting the Wren Boys ritual (Lá an Dreoilín) as the day when the traitor wren betrayed St. Stephen is a good example of how Ireland’s pagan traditions were merged with Christianity (it also happened with St Brigid)

The Wren, the Wren the king of all birds,
St. Stephens’s day, he was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his honour is great,
Rise up, kind sir, and give us a trate.

We followed this Wren ten miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow,
We up with our wattles and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all.

For we are the boys that came your way
To bury the Wren on Saint Stephens’s Day,
So up with the kettle and down with the pan!
Give us some help for to bury the Wren!

Modern Revival
Nowadays, a more humane Wren Boys is still practiced in mainly rural areas, they don’t kill the wren anymore, thank goodness. The tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren, and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Crowds of mummers or straw boys celebrate the wren by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colorful motley clothing and, accompanied by céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages. A celebration is still held around the decorated pole and the money that is collected from the townspeople is now donated to a school or charity.

Cautionary word of warning to all wrens – a wren’s feather is still thought to bring good luck, so maybe lie low around Christmas time…

Shop Irish at The Irish Jewelry Company and learn more about Irish traditions.