The harp , of the small portable type played by Celtic minstrels, is the oldest official symbol of Ireland.
It appears on Irish coins, the presidential flag, state seals, uniforms, and official documents. But the harp is most often associated with Guinness, which adopted the harp as its trademark in 1862.
The shamrock is undoubtedly the most identifiable symbol of Ireland. Shamrock comes from the Irish Gaelic word Seamrog, a word that refers to the plant's three leaves.
Legend has it that during a religious debate with the Druid priests, St. Patrick plucked a shamrock to demonstrate the mysteries of the Christian Trinity--three leaves held together by a single stem. Whether or not this story is true,
The shamrock is regarded as the national plant of Ireland and always worn on St. Patrick's Day.
THE IRISH FLAG
The Irish tricolor flag made its debut in 1848. It was based on the French tricolor; however, the colors were altogether Irish.
One outside band was made green, the color that had long been used as a symbol of the Catholic majority.
The other outside band, a stripe of orange, was chosen to represent the Protestant minority.
And the middle band of white represented their unity.
THE CLADDAGH RING
The symbol of the Claddagh Ring dates back to a fishing village in Galway known as Claddagh village.
It represents the fishing Kings of Claddagh, whose motto was "in love and friendship let us reign.“
In the 17th century the symbol was made into a ring which became a popular gift throughout Galway.
Tradition says that the heart is worn outward to show that the wearer is "heart whole and fancy free."
Many Claddagh Rings have become family heirlooms and are a gift to be passed down from the mother and worn by a daughter on her wedding day.
THE CELTIC CROSS
The meaning of the Celtic Cross is told in legend of Ireland's St. Patrick.
He was shown a sacred standing stone that was marked with a circle.
St. Patrick took this opportunity to show the union of old and new ways.
He marked a cross through the circle and blessed the stone.