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Irish Celtic Symbols

Numerous Irish Celtic symbols date back centuries. The more common ones include some of the Celtic knots.

Irish Celtic Symbols

About Irish Celtic Symbols

Probably the most well known of the Irish Celtic symbols is the shamrock. It is also called a trefoil or a cloverleaf. It is native to Ireland and for the Druids, it symbolized several sets of three things: the three dominions of earth, sky, and sea, the three stages of man, and the phases of the moon. Folklore tells that it is a charm against evil and that has stayed with us until today, where it is used as a lucky charm. In the recent past, it was said that St. Patrick used it to teach the Trinity using its three leaves.

Tree of Life

A key element in early Celtic beliefs, and another Celtic symbol, was the Tree of Life. Since trees provided fuel, food, and shelter, they were considered sacred. It was believed that trees were mankind's ancestors and were the connection between man and the supernatural world. The most sacred tree was the oak tree that symbolized the center of the world. In legends, trees provide wisdom, shelter, blessings, healing, and could also carry messages to the other realm.


Mistletoe isn't just for Christmas- it is another Celtic symbol and has an amazing history in Ireland. One reason it was revered is that it grew in sacred trees. It also had no roots and no connection to the earth, so it was believed to be the sacred plant of the sun. It was also believed that the mistletoe took the power and essence of the tree it grew in, so the most powerful mistletoe grew in the oak.

Mistletoe was used in Winter Solstice rituals, for magical protection, and for healing. The superstition of kissing under it comes from the tradition of placing fresh mistletoe in the house every year to retain the love in the house. The word "Druid" comes from the word "dru" meaning strength and the word "vid" meaning wisdom. The oak tree and the mistletoe symbolize these two words.


The Claddagh symbol is named after a town in Ireland, which has a local legend of love. Basically, it is the tale of a man kidnapped into slavery that returns and gives his true love a ring with this symbol on it. It is a heart with two hands around it and a crown above it. It is a symbol of loyalty, shown by the crown, love, shown by the heart, and friendship, shown by the hands. It is usually found on rings but can be found on other things, like napkins or family crests.

Spirals are used in a few Irish Celtic symbols. One of them is the Triple Spiral called the Triskele and is composed of three spirals made with one continuous line. This was used to signify pregnancy and reincarnation. They also show the elements of earth, sky, and water.

Celtic Knots

The ancient knot work of the Celts had spiritual meanings, but most are unknown now. Since many designs use continuous loops, we can infer that they stood for eternity and the inter-relationships of things. The knots could have been made in an intricate way to foil evil spirits. Some knots were used as lucky charms and some just represented nature. The Shield Knot, or the Four Corners, has been used in many cultures for keeping away evil spirits and for protection. It invoked the gods from the four corners of the earth and its origin goes back to ancient times.

The Triquetra, or the Trinity Knot, can symbolize the earth, sky, and sea, or the mind, body, and soul. It is now used to show the Trinity and sometimes fish replace the circles.