Shamrock, the symbol of Ireland
Shamrock, the emblem synonymous with Saint Patrick, has a very long and colourful tradition. It means many things to different people and can evoke messages relating to national pride, religion, history, celebration etc. In horticultural terms what is Shamrock and why do we wear it on St. Patrick’s Day?
Shamrock, Seamóg or Seamair Óg, the Irish for a young clover can be found growing wild throughout Ireland. It is worn on the feast day of St. Patrick, 17th March, to represent a link with Saint Patrick, the Bishop who spread the Christian message in Ireland. It is said Saint Patrick used the three leaved Shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), to the pagan Irish during the 5th Century. The tradition of wearing Shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day can be traced back to the early 1700’s.
Irish research in the late 1980’s highlighted a number of plants that were traditionally considered to be Shamrock. The plant most widely considered to represent Shamrock was Trifolium Dubium (the lesser clover, Seamair Bhuí). Other plants that were used as Shamrock included, Trifolium Repens (White Clover, Seamair Bhán), Trifolium Pratense (Red Clover, Seamair Dhearg) and Oxalis Acetosella (Wood Sorrel, Seamóg).