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Irish Shamrock Tattoos Design Ideas and Trivia

Updated on June 30, 2017

Irish shamrock tattoos are your thing. So you know everything about shamrock inside and out. Like, shamrock is considered the national emblem of Ireland and signifies the Irish heritage. It's also a Christian motif with linkage to Trinity and St. Patrick as the legend has it. And of course who can forget the Irish luck of shamrock?

Will the True Shamrock Please Stand Up?

You identify with all the above, which is why you're wearing those Irish shamrock tattoos. Here's an easy question then. Are shamrock and clover the same thing?

Yes? Okay. So, out of the few hundred species of clover, which is the true shamrock?

Eh... Gotcha.

You'll agree that Irish shamrock is a plant having compound leaves with three small leaflets. But which actual species of the three-leafed plants are the true shamrock? And is a shamrock a clover? There have been long debates over these. Let's see what the native Irish folks have to say about the true shamrock.

A survey by the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Ireland conducted in 1988 reveals the following findings:

  1. Hop clover (lesser trefoil): 46%
  2. White clover: 35%
  3. Black medick: 7%
  4. Red clover: 4%

Only one of them above isn't a clover. It's quite clear then that a shamrock is a clover. There's no clear winner of the true shamrock though. But if you choose a hop or white clover as a base design for your Irish shamrock tattoos, you can't be too far wrong for sure.


Tracing the Root of Shamrock

Looking at how the word "shamrock" came about will throw light on whether shamrock is clover too. Etymologists have traced the word origin to the Gaelic word "seamaróg". Over the years, "seamaróg" became "shamrock" in English as the closest pronunciation to the original. Literally, the Celtic dialect word "seamaróg" translates into "little clover" or "young clover". (Is that why the designs of Irish shamrock tattoos tend to be small?)

So, shamrock is clover. It's just a smaller, or younger, version of clover. If you go by what the etymologists say.

Is a Four-Leaf Clover also an Irish Shamrock?

Perhaps you're wondering whether a four-leaf clover is an Irish shamrock? After all, they are clover and look similar except for the number of leaflets. They are linked to Ireland. And, both are thought to bring good luck.

Nope. Sorry. Four-leaf clover cannot be considered shamrock. At least not technically in the sense of the shamrock representing the Trinity as illustrated by St. Patrick. The four-leaf clover is simply a mutation of the tri-leaf clover believed to bring good luck to the accidental finders according to tradition. There is no Christianity connotation attached. So, when the Irish shamrock tattoos someone shows you turn out to be four-leaf clover tattoos, you now know better.

Irish Shamrock Tattoo
Irish Shamrock Tattoo
Four-Leaf Clover Tattoo
Four-Leaf Clover Tattoo

Irish Shamrock Tattoos Design Tips

Where can you wear your Irish shamrock tattoos? Almost everywhere on your body. Just like its namesake, "little clover," Irish shamrock tattoos can be rather small and hence easy to wear.

Want to be chic? Wear a mini shamrock on the hand or foot. Or tattoo them on the ankle, shoulder, or lower back. Any part of the body you can think of you can wear them. How many other designs can match the versatility of the plain Irish shamrock tattoos?

Want more elaborate designs? Try inking your Irish shamrock tattoos in Celtic style. Interweave Celtic knots or tri-spiral image within the shamrock. Sit the shamrock in the center of a Celtic cross. Tattoo other Celtic artwork in and around the shamrock. Or try inking them in cartoon or portrait style. Use your imagination and check with the tattoo artists. You're bound to come up with something you like.

Knowing the nitty gritty about shamrock and its symbolism enrich the experience of wearing those Irish shamrock tattoos. Like other body art, tattoos nowadays are not only a way of expressing your artistic tastes, but also your personal beliefs and background. The Irish shamrock symbol, with its rich culture and the intricate details when done in Celtic style, can be very expressive and suit the purposes pretty well. So, good luck to finding your personal Irish shamrock tattoos soon.


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    • PiersPang profile image

      PiersPang 7 years ago from Singapore


      Some nice tatt images you have in your hubs.

    • Olga Zitner profile image

      Olga Zitner 7 years ago

      Great HubPage! If you are into shamrock clover tattoo designs make sure you check out my blog.


    • profile image

      Nick (holland) 8 years ago

      very nice tatts:)

    • profile image

      luckychick 8 years ago

      you need to post more damn pics if you wanna get n-e hits retard! just kidding! luckychick luvz u lotz