Love for Words — Shamrock
March 16, 2018
___ The Shamrock is the most universally recognized symbol of Ireland, and is recognized in Irish folklore.
American Heritage Dictionary defines “Shamrock” as:
— Any of several plants, such as a clover or wood sorrel, having compound leaves with three small leaflets, considered the national emblem of Ireland.
Note, it says “considered” the national emblem. Yet, according to information I received from Tourism Ireland the Shamrock is not the Emerald Isle’s national emblem — the Celtic Harp is.
The Tourism Ireland document describes Shamrock:
—“The Shamrock itself is a three-leafed old white clover. It is sometimes of the variety Trifolium repens (a white clover, known in Irish as seamair bhán) but today usually Trifolium dubium (a lesser clover, Irish: seamair bhuí). The diminutive version of the Irish word for “clover”, “seamróg” (anglicised as “shamrock”) representing a close approximation of the original Irish pronunciation. ‘Seamroy’ itself means ‘little clover’. The plant itself is a very common clover that grows throughout Ireland.”
More information and fun facts shared in the document provided by Tourism Ireland:
An Irish blessing:
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
‘Tis true that now there are no snakes on the island. And many believe the St. Patrick legend to be true. Some scholars argue that there were never snakes on the island.
Another interesting fact: snakes are never seen in fields of shamrocks anywhere in the world, and shamrocks can be used as a remedy for snake venom.
There is no mention of shamrocks St. Patrick’s writings. However the shamrock is a symbol found on many medieval bishops’ tombs, including St. Patrick’s.
Have you ever seen a Shamrock field?
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