Along with the Claddagh and
Harp, the Celtic cross is one of the
best known Irish (or Celtic) symbols.
They are important reminders of the
An instrument having an upright triangular frame
consisting of a pillar, a curved neck, and a hollow back
containing the sounding board, with usually 46 or 47
strings of graded lengths that are played by plucking
with the fingers.
decorated with a
usually cover the
majority of the cross
are used to show
scenes, or to
of Celtic design
At the intersection of the
cross, the ring is
added, giving the Celtic
cross its classic and
Most crosses feature a
pierced ring, but there
are variants that do not
have any open space
between the inner
circumference of the
ring, and the cross
Although the Celtic cross is tightly associated with
Christianity today, this was not always the case. In
fact, the Celtic cross pre-dates Christianity, and has its
origins in an older religion.
As Ireland converted to Christianity, the cross remained
an integral symbol, and as such, it took on new
It is generally thought that St. Patrick and others
responsible for Ireland’s conversion to Christianity
sought to use symbols that the Irish were already
familiar with, thus making the transition easier and
In Ireland (as well as in Great Britain), Celtic Crosses
began appearing as early as the 7th century. Often,
these large stone crosses were erected by Irish monks.
These wonderful crosses were normally used as
boundary markers, for example where parishes
intersected, or as monuments surrounding monasteries,
cathedrals, or churches.
The Celts were a group of peoples that
occupied lands stretching from the British Isles
The Celts had many dealings with other
cultures that bordered the lands occupied by
these peoples, and even though there is no
written record of the Celts emerging from their
own documents, we can piece together a fair
picture of them from archeological evidence
as well as historical accounts from other
The people who made up the various tribes we’re
talking about were called Galli by the Romans and
Galatai or Keltoi by the Greeks, terms meaning
Celt is derived from the greek Keltoi. Since no soft “c”
exists in greek, Celt and Celtic were pronounced with
a hard “k” sound.
However, later it was decided that British Latin should
have different pronunciation from other spoken Latin.
Therefore, one of these distinguishing pronunciation
differences was to make many of the previously hard
“k” sounds move to a soft “s” sound.
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