St. Patrick’s Day & The Four Leaf Clover

Shamrock, Gaelic seamarog is the little seamar  a three leaf clover, a trefoil.

Pagan version: Ancient bards professed that it was an object of reverence with the legendary race of Tuath-de-Danaan. The triple spiral symbol, or Triskelion, occurs at several ancient megalithic and Neolithic sites in Ireland. It is carved into the rock of a stone lozenge near the main entrance of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland. Newgrange, which was built around 3200 BC, predated the Celtic arrival in Ireland but has long since been incorporated into Celtic culture.

According to Academic Folklorist Jack Santino hypothesized that “The shamrock was probably associated with the earth and assumed by the Druids to be symbolic of the regenerative powers of nature .”

The Druids revered the Shamrock for its connection to the earth and Since 1640, picking a four-leaf clover will bring you good luck. A description from 1869 says that four-leaf clovers were “gathered at night-time during the full moon by sorceresses, who mixed it with vervain and other ingredients.

Below: St. Patrick portrayed with shamrock in detail of stained glass window in St. Benin’s Church, Wicklow, Ireland


Christian Version:

Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century AD. His real name was Maewyn Succat, born into a wealthy family.

The Declaration cites, that at the age of sixteen  he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. Once there, he spent six years working as a shepherd and during this time he “found God”. The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After returning home, Patrick became a priest. Over his lifetime he had converted thousands to people to Christianity. Tradition dictates that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick.

St. Patrick was a Bishop in 5th Century Ireland. His colour is green representing the Emerald Island called Ireland. His claim to fame, he used a three leaf shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to the Pagans and Druids who revered two separate Triple-Goddesses The Morrigan and Ériu.

This Saintly Bishop gave a clear explanation to unbelievers of the Holy Trinity and from that day the shamrock has been revered throughout Ireland. A four-leaf clover has always been a sign of good luck in Irish folklore. According to legend, The four-leaf clover represents faith, hope and love, and God added another leaf for luck.

Thomas Moore’s poem,

Oh the Shamrock 

  “Chosen leaf
Of Bard and Chief,
Old Erin’s native Shamrock!
Says Valour, ‘See
They spring for me,
Those leafy gems of morning!’
Says Love, ‘No, no,
For me they grow,
My fragrant path adorning!’
But Wit perceives
The triple leaves,
And cries,–‘O do not sever
A type that blends
Three godlike friends,
Love, Valour, Wit, for ever!
O! the Shamrock, the green, immortal Shamrock!”

St. Patrick was also famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea. Legend has it that St. Patrick had finished his 40 day fast when he was attacked by several nests of snakes. According to researchers post-glacial Ireland never had snakes being surrounded by water. Scholars see the snake tale as an allegory for the busy Saint’s abolition of pagan beliefs.

The Drowning of the Shamrock,’ term means drinking some ale after fasting from the Christian Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends before Easter.

It is no coincidence, that the Druid’s Celtic symbol was the snake, Through St. Patrick’s eyes they needed to convert to Christianity or be driven out of Ireland altogether.

Classics Professor Philip freeman of Luther College in Iowa stated “when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age,”

The snake was an Ancient spiritual totem to ancient peoples from Ancient Africa, Egypt and throughout the ages including the Celts and Druids who inhabited Ireland centuries before the coming of Christianity. The Celtic Goddess Brigid an Irish goddess who was associated with spring, poetry, medicine, cattle, and arts and crafts. Brigid was associated with snakes and her celebratory day is Imbolc. To the Celts Imbolc was a time of weather sorcery, the old custom of watching to see if serpents or badgers appeared from their winter dens may be a forerunner of the North American Groundhog Day.

Today St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated throughout the world by many folks Christian and non-Christian a like, wearing green top hats, drinking green ale and enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


©Nifty Buckles 2017-2020 All Rights Reserved.


Sources & References:

  • Davidson, Hilda Ellis (1988). Myths and symbols in pagan Europe: early Scandinavian and Celtic religions. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-8156-2441-7
  • Sacred-texts
  • Santino, Jack (1995). All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. University of Illinois Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780252065163.
  • Postcards in Public domain





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