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Short History of the Shamrock

One of the first written english references to the Shamrock dates from 1571, and in Irish, as seamrog, from 1707.  The Shamrock was used as an emblem by the Irish Volunteers in the era of Grattan's Parliament in the 1770's, before '98 and The Act of Union. So rebellious did the wearing of the Shamrock eventually appear, that in Queen Victoria's time Irish regiments were forbidden to display it. It then became the custom for civilians to wear a little paper cross colored red and green.  As a symbol of Ireland it has long been integrated into the symbol of the United Kingdom, along with the Rose, the Thistle and the Leek of England, Scotland and Wales.Today, on St. Patrick's Day, a member of the British Royal Family presents shamrocks to the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army.


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May you have:
A world of wishes at your command
God and his angels close at hand
Friends and family their love impart,
And Irish blessings in you heart


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Magic Shamrocks

Three is Ireland's magic number.
So ~ the Shamrock.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Love, Valour and Wit..
Faith, Hope and Charity.
Crone, Mother and Virgin.
Numbers played an important role in Celtic symbolism.

Three was the most sacred and magical number.
Three may have signified totality: past, present and future
OR behind, before and here
OR sky, earth and underworld.
Everything good in Ireland comes in threes. The rhythm of story telling
in the Irish tradition is based on threefold repetition.
This achieves exaggeration. Even today in pub talk, a storyteller
can rarely resist a third adjective, especially if it means stretching
a point. "Three accomplishments well regarded in Ireland: a
clever verse, music on the harp, the art of shaving faces."


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The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney.

Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of eloquence (blarney). The castle was built in 1446 by the Lord of Muskerry-- its walls are 18 feet thick (necessary to stop attacks).  Thousands of tourists a year still visit the castle. The origins of the Blarney Stone's magicalproperties aren't clear, but one legend says that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly.

It's tough to reach the stone -- it's located between the main castle wall and the parapet. Kissers have to stretch on their back and bend backward (and downward), holding on to metal bars for support.

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Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter
Lullabies, dreams, and love ever after.
Poems and songs with pipes and drums
A thousand welcomes when anyone comes.
That's the Irish for you!

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Near a misty stream in Ireland in the hollow of a tree
Live mystical, magical leprechauns
who are clever as can be
With their pointed ears, and turned up toes and little
coats of green
The leprechauns busily make their shoes and try hard
not to be seen.
Only those who really believe have seen these little
And if we are all believers
We can surely see for ourselves.
(Irish Blessing)


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May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.


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Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as if it were your last

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Updated: June 27, 2006

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