The Shamrock

Shamrock
Shamrock

The Shamrock, a 3 leaf clover, is Ireland’s most recognised National symbol.  The word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog meaning “little clover”.  The plant most widely considered to represent the Shamrock is the Trifolium dubium (the lesser clover, seamair bhui), other plants that are used as shamrock include, Trifolium repens (white clover, seamair bhan), Trifolum pratense (red clover, seamair dhearg) and Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel, seamog).

Traditionally, the Shamrock was used by St. Patrick to explain the concept of the holy trinity, God was made up of three entities – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each entity was part of the other just like the shamrock and had one stem. 

The tradition of wearing shamrock is associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th March which is an Irish national holiday and it is custom to wear the shamrock on this day. 

Since 1952 it has become a tradition on St. Patrick’s Day 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.

The Shamrock has been registered as a trademark by the Government of Ireland.  In the early 1980s, Ireland defended its right to use the shamrock as its national symbol in a German trademark case.  Having originally lost, Ireland won on appeal to the Supreme Court in 1985. 

The Shamrock is the most recognisable emblem of Ireland.  For good luck, it is usually included in the bouquet of an Irish bride, and on the boutonniere of the groom. 

Outside of Ireland, many organisations, businesses and places use the symbol of the shamrock to advertise a connection with the country.  The shamrock is used in the emblems of many state organisations in the Republic of Ireland, notably IDA Ireland, and Aer Lingus.