“The Shamrock, the unofficial symbol of Ireland, Boston and Massachusetts”, is known as being a three-leafed clover. The word ‘shamrock’ comes from old Irish ‘seamrog’ which means ‘trefoil’. Traditionally, Druids considered it as a sacred plant with magical power. According to a legend, the leaves of the clover stand upright when a storm is approaching. Nowadays, it is thought that the four-leafed clover – and not the three-leafed one - symbolizes good luck and that it brings happiness.
To understand why the shamrock is the symbol of Ireland, you have to go back to the fifth century AD. Saint Patrick, a Christian missionary, travelled around Ireland to preach the word of the Christian God. He plucked a shamrock at his feet to illustrate the principle of the Trinity. Each leaf represented each member of the Trinity, that is to say The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Another popular belief is that shamrocks keep snakes away, which is why there are no snakes in Ireland. Moreover it is said to be a remedy against snakebites and scorpion stings.
During the rebellion of Ireland against England, shamrocks became a strong symbol of Irish identity, to such an extend in fact that anyone who wore one exposed himself to death.
On Saint Patrick’s Day (17th March), shamrocks can be seen everywhere. People send shamrocks cards, they wear every possible forms of the green plant on them in order to assert their Irish identity.
The Shamrock (by Andrew Cherry)
There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle,'T was Saint Patrick himself, sure, that set it;And the sun of his labor with pleasure did smile,And with dew from his eye often wet it.It grows through the bog, through the brake, through the mirelandAnd they call it the dear little Shamrock of Ireland(Irish Blessing)