The luck of the Irish is a term often heard in connection with the inhabitants and descendants of those from the emerald isle. Steeped in rich symbolism and heritage, a melting pot of factors has created the conception that the Irish are blessed with good fortune. Where did this idea come from?
In Popular Culture
Popular culture is always a great way to cement a myth, no matter how small it may be. Gaelic imagery has always been well-used in cinema and literature. Much of its design work and architectural schemes have littered films and books such as Lord of the Rings, and characters like the Banshee and Leprechauns have been a stalwart of the fantasy and horror genres. All this has done is helped perpetuate the myths behind them, like lucky shamrocks.
All this imagery has also been used in a place where luck is needed a lot, namely the casino. In the online slot world, where the look and theme of games are very important you will find many that have Irish and Gaelic symbolism entrenched in them. Play online slots for fun and you will soon see plenty, including the exclusive Gold Book of Luck at Paddy Power.
Where Did It Originate?
The origin of the saying is in dispute. One theory is that at first, it was not a compliment at all but an insult. Hailing from the US, many of the miners during the country’s mineral rushes in the days of the frontier were of Irish descent. This led to their association of them with gold, though it also implied they could only find these items through luck as opposed to intelligence, bringing about the phrase.
Of course, the mythology of Ireland also holds some clues, particularly that of the leprechaun. The myth is that if you find the end of the rainbow, there you would also find the leprechaun’s pot of gold.
The Four-Leaf Clover
Certain parts of the U.S., such as Boston, take a lot of their history from Ireland. This is because many from the country settled in the US, due to the famines and the prospect of building a better life. With them, they brought many of their superstitions. In a land that was extremely hard and punishing, any signs of help and luck will have been welcomed.
One piece of symbolism that came from this period was the four-leaf clover, often named the shamrock, but almost always confused. The shamrock is a plant that always has three leaves. It is important in Irish heritage as St Patrick used it to describe the three forms of God. St Patrick also drove all the snakes out of Ireland, casting the last one into the section where the River Shannon met at three points. Thus, it is the symbolism of the number three that is just as important as the plant.
The four-leaf clover is a different plant entirely. While the usual three-leaf clovers were already a popular icon of Christianity, the rarer four-leaf plant could be a symbol of Eden. There are also links between the plant and Celtic beliefs about faeries. Whichever is the true root of the symbol’s popularity, it continues to represent Irish luck across the world.