Celebrating The Shamrock on St Patrick’s Day!

Irish_cloverNicola here! Today is St Patrick’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, and if you’ve read Wench Susan’s post earlier in the week you will already be in the mood to celebrate with a pint of Guinness and some delicious soda bread!

Whilst the harp is the official symbol of Ireland, found everywhere from Guinness glasses to official coinage, the shamrock is another symbol that is as widely recognised and popular. It is said that this little sprig of green was important to the druids and that St Patrick used it to explain the concept of the trinity in his teaching, as it has three leaves.

The original shamrock has been identified as being either the lesser or the white clover, although down the centuries there has been a lot of discussion amongst botanists as to what genus of plant it actually was. Normally it has just the three leaves; if you find one with four then that is especially lucky! References to it in medieval literature refer to beautiful fields of it in flower – there is a story that St Brigid decided to stay in County Kildare when she saw a meadow clothed in glorious shamrock/clover flowers.

In the Tudor era English writer Edmund Campion sowed the seed of confusion (sorry – pun!) by writing that the “wild Irish” fed upon Pink_Clover_(211935993) “Shamrotes, watercresses, rootes, and other herbes.” This idea took root (sorry!) even more later in the 16th century when the poet Edmund Spenser, writing after the Munster Rebellion, claimed that the Irish were starving and were therefore driven to eat shamrock to save them from death. In fact what they were eating was Wood Sorrel, which looks similar to clover, has a very pleasant lemony flavour and contains vitamin C!

In the 17th century we find the first written reference linking the shamrock to Saint Patrick when Thomas Dineley, an English traveller in Ireland wrote: “The 17th day of March yeerly is St Patricks, an immoveable feast, when ye Irish of all stations and condicions were crosses in their hatts, some of pinns, some of green ribbon, and the vulgar superstitiously wear shamroges, 3 leav'd grass, which they likewise eat (they say) to cause a sweet breath.” The following century, another writer also noted that there was a tradition to dip the shamrock in whiskey: “They wet their Seamar-oge, they often commit excess in liquor, which is not a right keeping of a day to the Lord; error generally leading to debauchery,” Clearly the author disapproved deeply!

Mountjoy_square_lamppost1During the 18th century the shamrock evolved into a symbol of Ireland and not just of St Patrick. It became particularly popular in the 19th century, when it started to feature in painting and ballads, poems and architecture. Here it is in the picture on a street light in Mountjoy Square in Dublin! It has become a tradition for the Irish Taoiseach to present a bowl of shamrocks in a special Waterford crystal bowl featuring a shamrock design to the President of the United States in the White House every St. Patrick's Day.

I was intrigued to discover that there's also a whole selection of vintage St Patrick's Day cards St._Patrick's_Day_postcard_1908 from the 19th and early 20th century that you could send to people to wish them a happy day and "the luck of the Irish." I particularly liked this card from 1908!

Going back to the shamrock plant itself, some folk traditions assign a different attribute to each of the three leaves. The first leaf represents hope, the second stands for faith, the third is for love and if there is a fourth leaf then you are obviously very lucky indeed! Some people seem to get a bit carried away and claim that  six leafed clover/shamrock grants the finder fame and a seven leafed one longevity! Others say that four-leaf clovers granted the power to see fairies.

Whichever way you look at it, it feels as though the shamrock is a symbol of hope and good fortune, which is a lovely thing to wish people in the coming year. Meanwhile, I will wear my lucky Celtic ring in honour of St Patrick's Day and wish everyone a very happy day! Do you have a special lucky charm or mascot, or something you wear to celebrate special occasions?

70 thoughts on “Celebrating The Shamrock on St Patrick’s Day!”

  1. I love the different spellings of Shamrock in this post. And the picture of the post card looks like it shows a giant cucumber, funny but cute. I also enjoyed the puns shared. Thanks so much for such an enjoyable and educational blog post. I really enjoy things like this.

    Reply
  2. I love the different spellings of Shamrock in this post. And the picture of the post card looks like it shows a giant cucumber, funny but cute. I also enjoyed the puns shared. Thanks so much for such an enjoyable and educational blog post. I really enjoy things like this.

    Reply
  3. I love the different spellings of Shamrock in this post. And the picture of the post card looks like it shows a giant cucumber, funny but cute. I also enjoyed the puns shared. Thanks so much for such an enjoyable and educational blog post. I really enjoy things like this.

    Reply
  4. I love the different spellings of Shamrock in this post. And the picture of the post card looks like it shows a giant cucumber, funny but cute. I also enjoyed the puns shared. Thanks so much for such an enjoyable and educational blog post. I really enjoy things like this.

    Reply
  5. I love the different spellings of Shamrock in this post. And the picture of the post card looks like it shows a giant cucumber, funny but cute. I also enjoyed the puns shared. Thanks so much for such an enjoyable and educational blog post. I really enjoy things like this.

    Reply
  6. Although most of my ancestors were Irish, I don’t really have any lucky charms or mascots that I look to. But my family always used this holiday to get together and have a good meal of corn beef and cabbage (one of my favorites).
    But this post reminded me of one of my uncles who could stand over a patch of clover and stare at it for a minute or two and then reach down and pluck up a FOUR leaf clover. He had a real talent for it. It must have been like looking at one of those “magic eye” illusion pictures. I’ve never been very good at those either (smile).
    Loved the post.

    Reply
  7. Although most of my ancestors were Irish, I don’t really have any lucky charms or mascots that I look to. But my family always used this holiday to get together and have a good meal of corn beef and cabbage (one of my favorites).
    But this post reminded me of one of my uncles who could stand over a patch of clover and stare at it for a minute or two and then reach down and pluck up a FOUR leaf clover. He had a real talent for it. It must have been like looking at one of those “magic eye” illusion pictures. I’ve never been very good at those either (smile).
    Loved the post.

    Reply
  8. Although most of my ancestors were Irish, I don’t really have any lucky charms or mascots that I look to. But my family always used this holiday to get together and have a good meal of corn beef and cabbage (one of my favorites).
    But this post reminded me of one of my uncles who could stand over a patch of clover and stare at it for a minute or two and then reach down and pluck up a FOUR leaf clover. He had a real talent for it. It must have been like looking at one of those “magic eye” illusion pictures. I’ve never been very good at those either (smile).
    Loved the post.

    Reply
  9. Although most of my ancestors were Irish, I don’t really have any lucky charms or mascots that I look to. But my family always used this holiday to get together and have a good meal of corn beef and cabbage (one of my favorites).
    But this post reminded me of one of my uncles who could stand over a patch of clover and stare at it for a minute or two and then reach down and pluck up a FOUR leaf clover. He had a real talent for it. It must have been like looking at one of those “magic eye” illusion pictures. I’ve never been very good at those either (smile).
    Loved the post.

    Reply
  10. Although most of my ancestors were Irish, I don’t really have any lucky charms or mascots that I look to. But my family always used this holiday to get together and have a good meal of corn beef and cabbage (one of my favorites).
    But this post reminded me of one of my uncles who could stand over a patch of clover and stare at it for a minute or two and then reach down and pluck up a FOUR leaf clover. He had a real talent for it. It must have been like looking at one of those “magic eye” illusion pictures. I’ve never been very good at those either (smile).
    Loved the post.

    Reply
  11. We usually go to our local parade on Patrick’s Day. Then home for eats and down to the local pub for an hour or too. They usually have traditional Irish music on played by people who just turn up with whatever instrument they play. Always enjoyable.
    Unfortunately, no can do this year. So we’re having a lazy day at home. The weather is lovely today. Normally it’s raining and bitterly cold for the parade. Ironic that it’s so nice and there’s no parade. Hopefully, next year will be back to normal.

    Reply
  12. We usually go to our local parade on Patrick’s Day. Then home for eats and down to the local pub for an hour or too. They usually have traditional Irish music on played by people who just turn up with whatever instrument they play. Always enjoyable.
    Unfortunately, no can do this year. So we’re having a lazy day at home. The weather is lovely today. Normally it’s raining and bitterly cold for the parade. Ironic that it’s so nice and there’s no parade. Hopefully, next year will be back to normal.

    Reply
  13. We usually go to our local parade on Patrick’s Day. Then home for eats and down to the local pub for an hour or too. They usually have traditional Irish music on played by people who just turn up with whatever instrument they play. Always enjoyable.
    Unfortunately, no can do this year. So we’re having a lazy day at home. The weather is lovely today. Normally it’s raining and bitterly cold for the parade. Ironic that it’s so nice and there’s no parade. Hopefully, next year will be back to normal.

    Reply
  14. We usually go to our local parade on Patrick’s Day. Then home for eats and down to the local pub for an hour or too. They usually have traditional Irish music on played by people who just turn up with whatever instrument they play. Always enjoyable.
    Unfortunately, no can do this year. So we’re having a lazy day at home. The weather is lovely today. Normally it’s raining and bitterly cold for the parade. Ironic that it’s so nice and there’s no parade. Hopefully, next year will be back to normal.

    Reply
  15. We usually go to our local parade on Patrick’s Day. Then home for eats and down to the local pub for an hour or too. They usually have traditional Irish music on played by people who just turn up with whatever instrument they play. Always enjoyable.
    Unfortunately, no can do this year. So we’re having a lazy day at home. The weather is lovely today. Normally it’s raining and bitterly cold for the parade. Ironic that it’s so nice and there’s no parade. Hopefully, next year will be back to normal.

    Reply
  16. You must be luckier than me, Mary Jo! I looked so hard for a four leaf clover when I was a child and I don’t think I ever found one!

    Reply
  17. You must be luckier than me, Mary Jo! I looked so hard for a four leaf clover when I was a child and I don’t think I ever found one!

    Reply
  18. You must be luckier than me, Mary Jo! I looked so hard for a four leaf clover when I was a child and I don’t think I ever found one!

    Reply
  19. You must be luckier than me, Mary Jo! I looked so hard for a four leaf clover when I was a child and I don’t think I ever found one!

    Reply
  20. You must be luckier than me, Mary Jo! I looked so hard for a four leaf clover when I was a child and I don’t think I ever found one!

    Reply
  21. Thank you, Molly, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, the different spellings down the ages are fascinating, aren’t they!

    Reply
  22. Thank you, Molly, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, the different spellings down the ages are fascinating, aren’t they!

    Reply
  23. Thank you, Molly, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, the different spellings down the ages are fascinating, aren’t they!

    Reply
  24. Thank you, Molly, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, the different spellings down the ages are fascinating, aren’t they!

    Reply
  25. Thank you, Molly, I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, the different spellings down the ages are fascinating, aren’t they!

    Reply
  26. Mary, that really is amazing! I love that you all get together on this holiday for a traditional meal as well. Have a great day!

    Reply
  27. Mary, that really is amazing! I love that you all get together on this holiday for a traditional meal as well. Have a great day!

    Reply
  28. Mary, that really is amazing! I love that you all get together on this holiday for a traditional meal as well. Have a great day!

    Reply
  29. Mary, that really is amazing! I love that you all get together on this holiday for a traditional meal as well. Have a great day!

    Reply
  30. Mary, that really is amazing! I love that you all get together on this holiday for a traditional meal as well. Have a great day!

    Reply
  31. I hope so, Teresa, but in the meantime I hope you all have a lovely day. It’s beautiful weather here too – just been for a walk with the dog, enjoying the sunshine!

    Reply
  32. I hope so, Teresa, but in the meantime I hope you all have a lovely day. It’s beautiful weather here too – just been for a walk with the dog, enjoying the sunshine!

    Reply
  33. I hope so, Teresa, but in the meantime I hope you all have a lovely day. It’s beautiful weather here too – just been for a walk with the dog, enjoying the sunshine!

    Reply
  34. I hope so, Teresa, but in the meantime I hope you all have a lovely day. It’s beautiful weather here too – just been for a walk with the dog, enjoying the sunshine!

    Reply
  35. I hope so, Teresa, but in the meantime I hope you all have a lovely day. It’s beautiful weather here too – just been for a walk with the dog, enjoying the sunshine!

    Reply
  36. Thanks for the enjoyable post, Nicola. (The old postcard had me thinking of the Hindenburg which was decidedly not Irish.) I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve sent many a letter there over the years to an old friend.

    Reply
  37. Thanks for the enjoyable post, Nicola. (The old postcard had me thinking of the Hindenburg which was decidedly not Irish.) I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve sent many a letter there over the years to an old friend.

    Reply
  38. Thanks for the enjoyable post, Nicola. (The old postcard had me thinking of the Hindenburg which was decidedly not Irish.) I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve sent many a letter there over the years to an old friend.

    Reply
  39. Thanks for the enjoyable post, Nicola. (The old postcard had me thinking of the Hindenburg which was decidedly not Irish.) I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve sent many a letter there over the years to an old friend.

    Reply
  40. Thanks for the enjoyable post, Nicola. (The old postcard had me thinking of the Hindenburg which was decidedly not Irish.) I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve sent many a letter there over the years to an old friend.

    Reply
  41. Bob and I have Irish ancestry. Today we did what we always do: Said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and went on with our buisiness.
    Sorry! We are just NOT into celebrating all the various days that clutter our calendar.
    I do love clover though, and like to look for it. I don’t count the leaves.
    And I love wild sorrel (Sour Grass) and still chew on it when I find it.

    Reply
  42. Bob and I have Irish ancestry. Today we did what we always do: Said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and went on with our buisiness.
    Sorry! We are just NOT into celebrating all the various days that clutter our calendar.
    I do love clover though, and like to look for it. I don’t count the leaves.
    And I love wild sorrel (Sour Grass) and still chew on it when I find it.

    Reply
  43. Bob and I have Irish ancestry. Today we did what we always do: Said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and went on with our buisiness.
    Sorry! We are just NOT into celebrating all the various days that clutter our calendar.
    I do love clover though, and like to look for it. I don’t count the leaves.
    And I love wild sorrel (Sour Grass) and still chew on it when I find it.

    Reply
  44. Bob and I have Irish ancestry. Today we did what we always do: Said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and went on with our buisiness.
    Sorry! We are just NOT into celebrating all the various days that clutter our calendar.
    I do love clover though, and like to look for it. I don’t count the leaves.
    And I love wild sorrel (Sour Grass) and still chew on it when I find it.

    Reply
  45. Bob and I have Irish ancestry. Today we did what we always do: Said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and went on with our buisiness.
    Sorry! We are just NOT into celebrating all the various days that clutter our calendar.
    I do love clover though, and like to look for it. I don’t count the leaves.
    And I love wild sorrel (Sour Grass) and still chew on it when I find it.

    Reply
  46. Yes, it made me think of that too, Kareni! I was quite surprised at the different sorts of postcards you could get. I had no idea.

    Reply
  47. Yes, it made me think of that too, Kareni! I was quite surprised at the different sorts of postcards you could get. I had no idea.

    Reply
  48. Yes, it made me think of that too, Kareni! I was quite surprised at the different sorts of postcards you could get. I had no idea.

    Reply
  49. Yes, it made me think of that too, Kareni! I was quite surprised at the different sorts of postcards you could get. I had no idea.

    Reply
  50. Yes, it made me think of that too, Kareni! I was quite surprised at the different sorts of postcards you could get. I had no idea.

    Reply
  51. I do not have a lucky charm….not even the cereal. I thank you for this post. I love all the information you have shared with us.
    The little I know about clover is that I have never found a four leaf clover. But, I am not a lucky person. If there were 100 lottery tickets, and I bought 99 and someone else bought 1, they would be a sure winner.
    I have a very Celtic background, but it is all Welsh and Scottish. And I am fortunate in many ways, just do not expect me to win anything.
    Thanks again. I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

    Reply
  52. I do not have a lucky charm….not even the cereal. I thank you for this post. I love all the information you have shared with us.
    The little I know about clover is that I have never found a four leaf clover. But, I am not a lucky person. If there were 100 lottery tickets, and I bought 99 and someone else bought 1, they would be a sure winner.
    I have a very Celtic background, but it is all Welsh and Scottish. And I am fortunate in many ways, just do not expect me to win anything.
    Thanks again. I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

    Reply
  53. I do not have a lucky charm….not even the cereal. I thank you for this post. I love all the information you have shared with us.
    The little I know about clover is that I have never found a four leaf clover. But, I am not a lucky person. If there were 100 lottery tickets, and I bought 99 and someone else bought 1, they would be a sure winner.
    I have a very Celtic background, but it is all Welsh and Scottish. And I am fortunate in many ways, just do not expect me to win anything.
    Thanks again. I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

    Reply
  54. I do not have a lucky charm….not even the cereal. I thank you for this post. I love all the information you have shared with us.
    The little I know about clover is that I have never found a four leaf clover. But, I am not a lucky person. If there were 100 lottery tickets, and I bought 99 and someone else bought 1, they would be a sure winner.
    I have a very Celtic background, but it is all Welsh and Scottish. And I am fortunate in many ways, just do not expect me to win anything.
    Thanks again. I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

    Reply
  55. I do not have a lucky charm….not even the cereal. I thank you for this post. I love all the information you have shared with us.
    The little I know about clover is that I have never found a four leaf clover. But, I am not a lucky person. If there were 100 lottery tickets, and I bought 99 and someone else bought 1, they would be a sure winner.
    I have a very Celtic background, but it is all Welsh and Scottish. And I am fortunate in many ways, just do not expect me to win anything.
    Thanks again. I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

    Reply
  56. Annette, I can identify with you! I very seldom win anything and whilst I think of myself as fortunate, I’m not a lucky person! My Celtic side is almost all Welsh too!

    Reply
  57. Annette, I can identify with you! I very seldom win anything and whilst I think of myself as fortunate, I’m not a lucky person! My Celtic side is almost all Welsh too!

    Reply
  58. Annette, I can identify with you! I very seldom win anything and whilst I think of myself as fortunate, I’m not a lucky person! My Celtic side is almost all Welsh too!

    Reply
  59. Annette, I can identify with you! I very seldom win anything and whilst I think of myself as fortunate, I’m not a lucky person! My Celtic side is almost all Welsh too!

    Reply
  60. Annette, I can identify with you! I very seldom win anything and whilst I think of myself as fortunate, I’m not a lucky person! My Celtic side is almost all Welsh too!

    Reply

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