Romantic Ireland

With its lush green grass, rolling waves and stunning sunsets – Ireland is an idyllic spot for romantic getaways and loved-up couples. However, it’s not just the views that make love feel at home on the Emerald Isle – with a subtle narrative of romance winding its way through our history from the very beginning.

 

The theme of this month’s box, Grá, takes its name from the Irish for “love”, but does not limit itself to a couples’ affection, but rather explores that deep connection that we feel for our friends, our family, and (of course) Ireland itself.

Below I’ve picked out some of my favourite Irish traditions that inspire this sentiment of Grá and play their part in Ireland’s great love story.

 

 

Picture Credit - lonelyplanet.com

Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring is perhaps Ireland’s most well-known symbol of love, and you’re likely to have seen a few on the fingers of your friends and acquaintances over the years, even if you don’t know the significance behind them.

The distinctive design is comprised of a heart, topped with a crown, and held between a pair of hands, symbols which in turn represent love, loyalty, and friendship. These are sentiments which can often be found inscribed on the inside of the ring itself.

 

Picture Credits - RoyalCladdagh

Dating back to the 17th Century, the ring takes its name from a village in Galway from where it is said to originate at the hands of a silversmith by the name of Richard Joyce. It was traditionally seen as an engagement or wedding ring, or in some cases, both! You see, aside from being a charming nod to your heritage, wearing a Claddagh in a particular way is thought to be a sign of your relationship status.

Worn on the ring finger of the right hand, with the point of the heart pointing towards your fingertips means that your heart is open, turned around on the same finger it means your heart is taken and you are spoken for.

 

However, when you swap the ring over to your left-hand things get more serious altogether! In this instance the point facing the fingertips would communicate an engagement, while when it’s inverted so the heart is the right way up – it means the wearer has tied the knot with their beloved.

However, in modern times it can be more in a much more casual manner, simply as a beautiful symbol of your own love for the Emerald Isle.

 

Celtic Knots

 

Speaking of tying knots, the Celts are rather famous for them! There is a plethora of twisted etchings, each with its own underlying purpose and meaning, but all have one thing in common – eternity.

With no beginning and no end, these woven patterns represent continuity and a commitment that cannot be broken, which I think is a lovely symbol for love – whether for your partner, your children, your country or even yourself.

 

You’ll probably be well acquainted with the symbol of Triquetra which has appeared in everything from medieval transcripts to a box set of the Charmed TV series. While I adore the symbolism behind the Trinity Knot, I think the lesser-known Serch Bythol links up so beautifully with the notion of Grá.

 

Two three-cornered knots join together to form a complete circle in their centre, representing the mind, body, and soul of each person existing as one, and creating an eternity together. It’s simultaneously simple and complicated, which is a gorgeously appropriate analogy for love.

 

Céilí Dance

It’s no secret that that Irish know how to party, and it’s not a recent phenomenon!

An Irish Céilí is a celebration of traditional music and dance dating back as early as the 1500s, in which people come together to tap out the steps which have been part of their culture for centuries. If you’re attending your first Irish wedding that involves this kind of dancing you may be slightly overwhelmed by the shared knowledge of the other guests over how to point their toes and where to place their feet – but that’s only because it’s been drummed into them their whole lives!

 

Don’t be startled by the weaving arms and synchronised clapping, once you grab a partner and throw yourself in there, you’ll be sure to pick up enough to have a roaring good time. “The Siege of Innis” is amongst the favourites, with four sets of couples lining up across from one another before starting a jig of place swapping, twirling and ducking under each-other’s arms.

Now this may not seem romantic as the classic ballroom waltz, or the passionate steps of the tango, but I challenge you to take part in a Céilí and not feel the joy rising in your heart and the laughter spilling from your mouth as you connect in a unique way with those around you. It’s a wonderful icebreaker, and whether you get it right or completely wrong – it’s always good fun.

Picture Credit - Celticsteps.ie

 

This kind of dancing saw a resurgence in the late 19th to early 20th century as part of the Gaelic Revival, after years of Irish culture being suppressed during British occupation. It was seen as an expression of national identity and a lasting piece of Irish heritage.

So while there may not be a lot of gazing tenderly into one another’s eyes, Céilí dancing is a way to fall in love with Ireland itself, with its history, its people and above all its adoration for a good old fashioned knees up!

Leap Year Proposals

If you’re an Amy Adams fan then you’re probably already familiar with this quirky little tradition, from the hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy “Leap Year.”

 

When the elusive 29th of February rolls round every four years, it is said that a woman has a brief window of opportunity to take her destiny into her own hands, and propose marriage to her choice of suitor.

This ritual is thought to date back to the 5th Century, when St. Brigit had an early pop at feminism by complaining to St. Patrick that women were having to wait too long for men to get down on one knee, and should be allowed to initiate the process themselves.

Patrick agreed (not very generously) to allow women this right on the extra day that occurs with each leap year, making the 29th of February a date to watch for those men out there who failed to pop the question on Valentine’s.  

Irish monks delivered the custom to Scotland, where it actually became a law in the late 13th century – going as far as to require that the man give a positive response, or else pay a penalty to his spurned would-be lover. This was traditionally a pair of silk gloves, handy for covering the shameful lack of a wedding ring on the wearer’s hand.

 

14 comments

  • I’m Irish at heart and some ancestry as well l love it all.

    Diane Ballard
  • I’m looking forward to to going to Ireland.

    Roberta Perell
  • This is my #1 bucket list to vist the land my family on both sides lived.

    Barbara Cain
  • We were married in Dublin in 1991! No one at home knew we had planned to do it there. Magical three weeks!

    Sherry McCormick
  • Ireland is everything I expected and more. Will return there one day.

    BJ O'Riley
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