The Meaning of Shamrock Tattoos

Even if you think you know shamrock tattoos, they are worth a second look. The shamrock is, perhaps, the most easily recognizable symbol of Ireland. Sometimes thought of as a ‘lucky clover’, the shamrock symbolizes the luck of the Irish. It calls to mind the grassy slopes of its country of origin, and the soulful yet optimistic nature of the people that live there. Shamrock tattoos are a perfect symbol of that unique and beloved cultural identity.

For most of us living in North America, however, the shamrock image we are most familiar with is likely to be a bit cartoonish a bright, bold, Kelly green clover. Understandably, though these clover tattoo designs might appeal to some people, they aren’t to everyone’s taste. There’s a lot more to shamrock tattoos than this popular image, however; for instance, shamrock tattoo designs are often done in Celtic style, filled in with the classic triple spiral or Celtic notwork. Alternatively, the shamrock design can form the center of a Celtic cross, or Celtic designs fill it in.

Any way you choose to depict it, though, the shamrock is lucky. Shamrock tattoos, then, have a dual function they promise the wearer good luck in all of his or her pursuits, while also being a subtle yet easily recognizable nod to one’s Irish heritage. Because they can be quite small, shamrock tattoos are quite versatile and easy to wear. They can go almost anywhere on an ankle, shoulder, lower back or even on the hand or foot, though the latter can sometimes be problematic tattoo sites because of color migration. Nevertheless, a tiny shamrock on the hand or foot can be very chic.

Facts About The Shamrock:

Shamrock tattoo designs and symbols The word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog or seamairog, meaning little clover. There are many, many different varieties of clover, several thousand in fact. Before the arrival of the Christians to Ireland, the Shamrock was considered sacred to the Irish Druids because the three leaves formed a triad. In Celtic art, the tri-spiral was very common and the number three was thought to have magical powers (as are many prime numbers for that matter!).

Shamrock Inspiration Gallery Click here to get inspired!The tradition of wearing Shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day can be traced back to the early 1700’s. For good luck, a Shamrock is usually included in the bouquet of an Irish bride, and also in the boutonniere of the groom.

Shamrock Symbolism:

If you decide to get one of these shamrock tattoos, what exactly is the symbolism behind this image? Well, shamrocks have been used since Victorian times as a popular pattern for items such as clothing and decorations, and the shamrock is reported to have medicinal uses as well. Additionally, shamrocks are one of the biggest symbols of luck throughout the world with many people equating a shamrock to other lucky images such as horseshoes and crossed fingers.

The shamrock also has both a religious connotation and a political one. Catholics may use this image as a representation of St. Patrick, and his saint’s day, March 17. The soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment wear a sprig of shamrock on this day, the shamrock being their emblem. This emblem was decreed by Queen Victoria a century ago in recognition of those Irish soldiers who fought in the Boer War.

Shamrock Tattoos:

There are many different styles and versions of shamrock tattoos available for you to choose from, whether you would like to get one done from flash art or have a tattoo designed just for you. The popularity of shamrocks as an Irish symbol, as well as one of good luck, mean that many people opt for this foliage tattoo. Women as well as men can be seen sporting a shamrock tat, placed in a variety of spots all over the body.

Unlike many tattoos which can be seen in either black and white or color, almost all shamrock tats are done with bright colored ink. This is because the color green is almost as important as the image of the shamrock itself. Green is “the” color of Ireland, and a non-green shamrock would not have the same impact as a colorfully inked one. Beyond this one consistency, a shamrock tat can be done in almost any style, including:

  • Celtic knots interwoven within the shamrock
  • Tribal artwork in and around the shamrock
  • Photo realistic, almost portrait-like, artwork
  • Cartoon styles, such as those seen on Old School tats

You can also choose to have a shamrock tattoo inked as part of a larger piece. For instance, the flag of Montreal includes a shamrock in its design (as a representation of one of the city’s largest populations at the time it was created). The University of Notre Dame (the Fightin’ Irish) also uses the shamrock as a symbol, as do several colleges and universities in the city of Dublin, Ireland. Or, you could use the shamrock as just part of a collage of “luck” items including a horseshoe, heart, shamrock and whatever else is lucky to you.

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