Ireland’s Myths and Cultural Symbols

Not sure if Leprechauns are real? Is there a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow? Diana, one of our International Student Ambassadors, takes you through the myths associated with Ireland. Read her blog to find out more!

Let’s clarify some myths regarding Ireland’s life. Before coming to Ireland, in my mind, I had five objects linked to this country: Leprechauns, rainbows, everyone has red hair, clovers, and beers. I will start with the symbol that can be easily linked to the other four: Leprechauns.  These small characters as part of the Celtic mythology, have been a piece of the Irish culture since hundreds of years ago. They are not real, however, It is not difficult to realize why leprechauns are one of Ireland’s most widely known symbols. The landscapes of Ireland are a perfect scenario for fairies and mythological creatures. Even walking around UL can drive your imagination into a fairy tale!

            Closely linked to leprechauns are the rainbows, a colorful path on the sky indicating where the gold treasure can be found. The constant rainy weather in Ireland and the sudden appearance and disappearance of the sun due to the strong wind conditions create easily these colorful arches in the firmament. It is really frequent to see one! Rainbows are almost a daily reminder that you are on a magic island.

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on

Checking some features of leprechauns, you do not need to use your imagination to understand why they are represented with red hair. Ireland is the second country in the world with the greatest red hair community after Scotland. However, they are only 10% of the overall population. Most of the red hairs are male, however, it is not difficult to find a beautiful red-hair girl around campus. Did you also know that it is even rarer to have red hair AND blue eyes?

 Clovers or shamrocks are other traditional symbols of Irish culture. One of the widest misunderstandings regarding them, is that they are represented with four-leaves. According to Irish culture, the real lucky shamrock has three leaves. Saint Patrick used it as an easy representation of holy trinity to the Irish pagans. Clovers and Leprechauns have in common the green color. The first thing that I realised when looking through the airplane window before landing in Ireland’s land, was the different shades of green that spread throughout the landscape. Green is everywhere, in objects or in the environment. Even during winter, you can feel closer to nature just looking out through your window. 

Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Finally, probably, the most remarkable tradition of Ireland in your mind, is Saint Patrick’s Day: Irish people wearing green clothes and having a pint or two. The Guinness beer is for sure another of the symbols in Ireland, as the company is based in Dublin City.

So, to summarise! Leprechauns do not exist, you’ll usually find a rainbow in the sky after it rains (but don’t go searching for gold, that’s a myth too), not every Irish person has red hair, Guinness is greatly associated with Ireland as it is produced in the capital city and the three leaf clover is one of the symbols that represents Ireland.

Thanks for reading!

~ Diana


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