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Co. Mayo

Kenneth Cole

Ireland is a complex culture with verified dating ranging back 5,000 years to the Cede Fields of Mayo, and earlier. We have chosen many of the famous symbols of Ireland to proudly decorate our products. The following descriptions are what we find to be simplified explanations for the symbols.

Features of Ireland and its Symbols

Ireland: Map and Location
Island Location:
Ireland is an island off western Europe in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Ireland is a divided country, with independent governments. . The Republic of Ireland (also called Ireland or Eire) occupies 5/6th of the island of Ireland; Northern Ireland occupies 1/6th of the island and is a part of the United Kingdom. Capital(s) Republic of Ireland: Dublin. Northern Ireland: Belfast Official languages: English and Gaelic. Size: The Republic of Ireland covers 27,135 square miles (70,280 sq km).Population: The population of Ireland is about 3,689,000 (as of 2000). Climate: Ireland has a cool, often-cloudy climate.

Flag of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland's flag is tricolor, and is made of three equal-sized rectangles of orange, white, and green. The flag is twice as wide as it is tall. The green side is by the flagpole. This flag was first used in 1848.  Colors in the flag represent the native population and religious beliefs in Ireland.Green: Signifies the native people of Ireland (most of whom are Roman Catholic). Orange: Represents the British supporters of William of Orange who settled in Northern Ireland in the 17th century (most of whom are Protestant). White: White occupies the center of the flag and signifies peace between these two groups of people.

Irish Provinces:

Commonly known as the Four Green Fields of Ireland. Irelands 4 provinces. Connacht is the north-western province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon. Leinster is the eastern province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Louth, Meath, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Westmeath and Longford. Munster is the southernmost province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Claire, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperrary, and Waterford. Ulster forms one of the historical provinces of Ireland. Six of its Nine counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone, are known together as Northern Ireland. Three counties Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan, are part of the Republic of Ireland.

Claddagh: The Friendship, Lovea and Loyalty Symbol or Ireland
The Claddagh design is said to originate from the Galway Area, and the Aran Islands.The Claddagh ring was originally worn by men, but later used as a Marriage Ring for Men and Women. The symbol is comprised of 2 hands, a heart and a crown.The hands symbolize the 2 parties involved. The heart is the seat of affection or love. And the crown perfection. So, a perfect union of love between 2 parties. Common word translations to the Claddagh are: Friendship (hands), Love (heart) and Loyalty (crown).

Harp Emblem: Its Importance in  Irish History
The harp symbol has been recognized as the emblem of Ireland since the 13th century. It was officially adopted as Ireland’s national symbol when the Irish Free State was created in 1922. The most famous Harp of Ireland is the Brian Boru harp which is located at the Trinity College in Dublin. The Boru harp is the oldest surviving Irish harp, and is the model used for the State emblem.

Trinity Symbol: The Trinity Symbol  is an ancient Celtic design.
The Trinity emblem is an ancient symbol for a high spiritual dignity. In the Christian faith, it represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Trinity symbol has been inscribed in stone, and also has been colored. Red for power, faith, language and sacrifice. Blue -represents faith and trust. Green –color of the plants and trees, suggests hope of life eternal.

Celtic Cross:
The Celtic Cross is possibly the best known symbol of Early Christianity in Ireland. The High Celtic Cross is a self contained monument, and are as high as 20 feet. They are generally made of sandstone, and their main characteristic feature is a circle connecting the arms. The rings around the high cross may have been a symbol of the cosmos, and at the center is the Crucificition of Christ. Or, the ring may have been a structural piece, to prevent the arms of the cross from snapping off. There are many decorations on the crosses many including scenes from the bible, while others feature animal Interlace, and scroll work. The crosses at Monasterboise and Cross of Scriptures, Clonmacnoise are good examples for the traditional Celtic Cross.

Brian Boru Harp
Brian Boru (c. 940-1014)  The last of the High King’s to lift Ireland out of the ruins of the Norse Age. He rebuilt ruined churches, built others, he sent overseas to replace lost books and artifacts and all that he possibly could to heal the wounds of the past two centuries of Norse pillage. One of the symbols most associated with Irieand is the Brian Boru Harp. This Harp is now located in the Long room, at the Trinity College Library, in Dublin. The harp is the national symbol of Ireland.

Irelands Areas of Historical Interest:
Interesting sites in Ireland include: Bru na Boinne (Newgrange), Boyne Valley, Ceide Fields, Clonmacnoise, Croagh Patrick, Dun Aengus, Glendalough, Hill of Tara, Lough Derg, Skellig Michael, Rock of Cashel.

Bru na Boinne “Boyne Palace”: Ireland’s Stonehenge
One of Ireland’s most spectacular archaeological sites is located in the Boyne Valley in County Meath. Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth were built around the same time that Stonehenge was erected in England. These tombs were built around 3200 B.C., several centuries before the great pyramids of Egypt. The exact reason these sites were built is unknown, but one of their features, is that they may have been used as an ancient form of solar calendar.

The Newgrange site
Newgrange was designed to catch the sun during the winter solstice (December 19-23), the rising sun shines thru a slit over the entrance, and lights up the burial chamber for 17 minutes.
At Dowth, the light of the setting sun of the solstice illuminates one of the chambers. At Knowth, the rising sun of the spring and autumn equinoxes lights the eastern passage, while the setting sun may have caught the western passage those days.

Clonmacnoise (Offaly)
An early Christian monastic site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon at the crossroads of Ireland in County Offaly. The Clonmacnoise location borders the three provinces of Connaught, Munster and Leinster. The monastery is on the east side of the River Shannon, in what was then the Kingdom of Meath, but occupying a position so central it was the burial-place of many of the kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display in the Visitor Centre. .

Hill of Tara (Meath)
Though best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. The Hill of Tara has been an important site since the late Stone Age when a passage-tomb was constructed there. Tara was at the height of its power as a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ.  Features of the Hill of Tara include the Mound of the Hostages, the Stone of Destiny, and Ancient Standing Stones. 

Rock of Cashel (Tipperary)
This was the seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century. A spectacular group of  stone fort Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale.  Features include 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.

The original forbidding fortification of the Eoghanachta, kings of Munster. Brian Ború was crowned King of Munster here in 977 and he became High King of Ireland in 1002. He was the first high king to exact universal and effective tribute from the other kings of Ireland.

Dun Aengus:  Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus - Angus' Fort)
The mysterious structure of Dun Aengus is situated on the western side of Inish Mór, one of the three Aran Islands (Oileáin Árainn), stone outcrops, in the Atlantic thirty miles (48 kms) west of Galway City.  The islands, Inish Mór, Inishmann and Inisheer have some of Europe's finest examples of pre-historic and early Christian antiquities.Dun Aengus is a vast fortification perched on the summit of a hill that rises precipitously from the ocean to a height of 300 feet (100 meters). Half the site, consisting of three concentric enclosures, has fallen into the sea, but what is left makes a fascinating sight. The cliff edge at Cahercommoun in the Burren is Early Christian and Dún Aonghasa is believed to be much older.  Dun Aengus has been estimated to have been built anywhere from 900BC to 500C.

Glendalough (Wicklow)
This early Christian monastic site was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses.In the 6th centaury St. Kevin founded a monastery and from this grew a monastic city, which became famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. The spectacular Round Tower in the Monastic City stands an impressive 34m high and 16m in circumference.The tower was originally built as a bell tower and a place of refuge when the monastery was attacked. There are many stone crosses and churches to see. As well as these magnificent remains, there is the breathtaking scenery of the valley to enjoy. 

Croagh Patrick (Mayo)
Is a holy mountain in Ireland, located in south Mayo, 5 miles from Westport, and on Clew Bay. It is a conical mountain that is said to be the place where St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Today it is a pilgrimage spot, where visitors from all over the world. It is said that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days at the summit of the mountain. Croagh Patrick is also known as the “Reek”, and on “Reek Sunday”, the last Sunday in July, thousands come to follow the steps of Patrick. Today, a church sits on the top of the “Reek”. It is said, that if you climb Croagh Patrick three times, you will have earned yourself a place in heaven.

Celtic Art: 
We may never know the exact influences that created the first true Celtic art, but it is surely have reflections of the Greek and Mediterranean regions of Europe. Early Celtic art and its abstract designs are abstract derivatives of plant, vegetal, and animals of the world. As Europe developed its fine artwork, so did the Irish, creating works in stone and metal. Recognizable designs include Irish spirals, running scrolls, and tendrils. Jewelry is both classical and native, with special designs including the Claddagh Ring, and Bronze Age Torcs.

Irish Coffee: 
It is said to have been created Foynes Flying Boat Restaurant, Foynes, Co. Limerick in 1943. Foynes was the European hub for transatlantic flights from 1937 – 1945. This was an international passageway, promoting of Ireland’s role in the development of passenger travel from Europe to the United States and vice versa during that period. The traditional recipe is that Hot Strong Coffee is poured into a warmed whiskey glass, sugar is added to taste (2 teaspoons), add one shot of Irish Whiskey, and stir. Then, a teaspoon is held against the glass, bowl of the teaspoon is upside down, and a tablespoonful of double cream is poured over it so that it floats on the surface.

The English word, “Whiskey” itself is derived from the Gaelic, uisge beatha, meaning 'water of life'. The Latin equivalent, aqua vitae, was a term which was commonly used throughout Europe to describe the local spirit. Whiskey is a spirit made by distilling fermented cereals, and that it evolved simply as a means of using up barley which would otherwise have been ruined after a wet harvest. In Ireland there are 3 names to remember, Jameson’s, John Powers Irish Blend, and Bushmills, Coleraine (the oldest malt in Ireland).

Craic (pronounced crack) is the unofficial catchphrase in Ireland for having a good time. Craic or “Conversation” is a word that means “lively entertainment”, especially in music events. A well-known Irish expression “Ceol Agus Craic” means “Music and Great Times”.

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This website is designed and maintained by Bridget Regan, updated 26 December 2008