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There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle,
'Twas Saint Patrick himself, sure, that set it;
And the sun of his labor with pleasure did smile,
And with dew from his eye often wet it.
It grows through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland
And they call it the dear little Shamrock of Ireland
The Shamrock, at one time called the "Seamroy", symbolizes the cross and blessed trinity. Before the Christian era it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad.
The well known legend of the Shamrock connects it definitely to St. Patrick and his teaching. Preaching in the open air on the doctrine of the trinity, he is said to have illustrated the existence of the Three in One by plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation. The legend of the shamrock is also connected with that of the banishment of the serpent tribe from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions.
The trefoil in Arabia is called shamrakh and was sacred in Iran as an emblem of the Persian triads. The trefoil, as noted above, being a sacred plant among the Druids, and three being a mystical number in the Celtic religion as well as all others, it is probable that St. Patrick must have been aware of the significance of his illustration.
THE IRISH SHAMROCK
The origins of the shamrock are lost in antiquity, but legend suggests that it was used by St. Patrick in the fifth century to demonstrate the meaning of the Trinity. The shamrock is found on Irish medieval tombs and on old copper coins, known as St. Patrick's money. The plant was reputed to have mystic powers... the leaves standing upright to warn of an approaching storm.
It is said that Patrick had a time of it trying to convince the people he met in Ireland to believe in the Holy Trinity. Reflecting for a moment, Patrick plucked a shamrock from the earth, and pointed to the three leaves on the shamrock, living proof of the Holy Trinity. Since then, the Shamrock has become the symbol of the land of Ireland.
Only one thing is certain about the shamrock, worn by millions on St. Patrick's Day. The word is derived from the Irish 'seamrog', meaning 'summer plant', and it remains Ireland's most famous symbol.
The Shamrock is not an official emblem of Ireland. That honour is reserved for The Harp. But it is used as a popular 'national' brand by all sorts of State Bodies and commercial concerns. Probably the most visible of these internationally is the Irish national airline Aer Lingus, with its heart-shaped trefoil on the tail of each plane. On St. Patrick's Day every year, Aer Lingus flies fresh shamrock to Irish Embassies all over the globe for their traditional National Day diplomatic parties. Irish uniformed personnel everywhere are also presented with Shamrock to wear for the day.
In written English, the first reference to the Shamrock dates from 1571, and in written Irish, as seamrog, from 1707. As a badge to be worn on the lapel on the Saint's feastday, it is referred to for the first time as late as 1681. The Shamrock was used as an emblem by the Irish Volunteers in the era of Grattan's Parliament in the 1770's, before '98 and The Act of Union. So rebellious did the wearing of the Shamrock eventually appear, that in Queen Victoria's time Irish regiments were forbidden to display it. At that time it became the custom for civilians to wear a little paper cross coloured red and green.
As a symbol of Ireland it has long been integrated into the symbology of the United Kingdom, along with the Rose, the Thistle and the Leek of England, Scotland and Wales. So today, on St. Patrick's Day, a member of the British Royal Family presents Shamrock to the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army.
THE MAGIC SHAMROCK
Three is Ireland's magic number. Hence the Shamrock.
Crone, Mother and Virgin.
Love, Valour and Wit..
Faith, Hope and Charity.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Numbers played an important role in Celtic symbolism. Three was the most sacred and magical number. It multiplies to nine, which is sacred to Brigid. Three may have signified totality: past, present and future / behind, before and here / sky, earth and underworld.
Everything good in Ireland comes in threes. The rhythm of story telling in the Irish tradition is based on threefold repetition. This achieves both intensification and exaggeration. Even today in quality pub talk, a raconteur can rarely resist a third adjective, especially if it means stretching a point.
"Three accomplishments well regarded in Ireland: a clever verse, music on the harp, the art of shaving faces."
"You tell us that there are three gods and yet one," the puzzled Irish said when St. Patrick was preaching the gospel to them in the 5th century AD. "How can that be?" The saint bent down and plucked a shamrock. "Do you not see," he said, "how in this wildflower three leaves are united on one stalk, and will you not then believe that there are indeed three persons and yet one God?"
~Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia ~
Webster's Dictionary Says: Shamrock \Sham"rock\, n. [L. seamrog, seamar, trefoil, white clover, white honeysuckle; akin to Gael. seamrag.] (Bot.) A trifoliate plant used as a national emblem by the Irish. The legend is that St. Patrick once plucked a leaf of it for use in illustrating the doctrine of the trinity. Note: The original plant was probably a kind of wood sorrel (Oxalis Acetocella); but now the name is given to the white clover (Trifolium repens), and the black medic (Medicago lupulina).
Shamrock from Encarta: Shamrock,common name for any of several three-leafed clovers native to Ireland. The shamrock was chosen Ireland's national emblem because of the legend that St. Patrick had used it to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. The Irish have considered shamrocks as good-luck symbols since earliest times, and today people of many other nationalities also believe they bring good luck. Scientific classification:Shamrocks belong to the family Leguminosae.
Information from the World Book Encyclopedia on the SHAMROCK: is a type of small herb with leaves made up of three leaflets. It is the national symbol of Ireland. According to legend, Saint Patrick planted shamrock in Ireland because the three small leaflets represented the Holy Trinity. Many Irish people wear a shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. The name shamrock comes from an Irish word that means trefoil (three-leafed).
In Ireland, the plant most often referred to as shamrock is the white clover. This plant has slender, creeping stems and white or pinkish-white flowers. Other plants that are sometimes referred to as shamrock include red clover and black medic. Florists often sell wood sorrel as shamrock. However, this plant is generally not considered the traditional shamrock.
Here Are More Articles About Irish Folklore and Blessings:
- IRELAND’S CASTLES & THEIR FASCINATING FACTS
- ST. PATRICK
- THE LEPRECHAUN
- WHAT IS AN IRISHMAN?
- HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK
- THE BLARNEY STONE
- FACTS ABOUT THE BLARNEY STONE
- IRISH RECIPES
- MORE IRISH RECIPES
- IRISH SYMBOLS - MYSTIC CHARMS, SPELLS, AND INCANTATIONS
- IRISH PROVERBS
- IRISH BLESSINGS
- IRISH BLESSINGS 2
- ST PATRICK - IRELAND'S PATRON SAINT
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