Friday, March 15, 2013

The History of the Shamrock by Carol King

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, the day when everyone in the world is Irish for a day! And the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish.

The Irish shamrock (spelled seamrog) is thought to be the white clover (Trifolium repens). What we consider to be a common lawn weed, is a native of Ireland. It has been symbolic of many things through the years. It was considered to be a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three is a mystical number in Celtic religion as well as many other religions. Supposedly, St. Patrick used it to illustrate the Holy Trinity to help convert Irish peoples to Christianity.

Ever wonder where the expression “the wear’o the green” came from? In the 19th century, wearing a shamrock became a symbol of the Catholic underground after a government-led religious prosecution began against Catholics. One could get hung for “wear’o the green”!

“O Paddy dear, and did you hear the news that going round?
The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground;
St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep, his colours can't be seen,
For there's a bloody law against the wearing of the green.”
Dion Bouicault

Today the plants we associate with St Patrick’s Day and are usually sold as “shamrocks” are actually wood sorrel or Oxalis. The Oxalis is very easy to grow. Check this article for its care.

Dear gardener, here’s a wish for a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day and this Irish blessing:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.