Perhaps an unofficial symbol of Ireland the Shamrock has held meaning to most of Ireland’s historic cultures. Druids believed the Shamrock was a sacred plant that could ward off evil. The Celtics believed the Shamrock had mystical properties due to the plant’s tree heart-shaped leaves. The Celtics believed that tree was a sacred number. Some Christians also believed the Shamrock had special meaning – the three leaves representing the Holy Trinity.
He was the son of Cumhall – leader of the Fianna – and Muirne, daughter of the druid Tadg mac Nuadat who lived on the hill of Almu in County Kildare. Fionn’s hounds, Bran and Sceolan, were once human themselves. He is also linked to the infamous Giant Causeway. Finn means ‘fair’ and he earned this nickname because of his fair hair.
One popular story tells of a salmon that knew all of the world’s knowledge. Finn was to cook this bountiful salmon for the chief poet Finnegas. As the salmon was cooking away in the pan Fionn went to turn it over but a little bit of the skin stuck to his thumb and burned him. With that Fionn stuck his thumb in his mouth to soothe the pain and as he did so there was a blinding flash of light and all at once Fionn knew all the knowledge that was in the world. The knowledge of the past, the present and the future.
An Irish fairy can take any form she wishes, but will usually choose a human form. They are said to be beautiful, powerful and hard to resist, which is unfortunate because most fairies in Ireland love to bring misfortune and bad luck to the mortals who come near them.
Perhaps the most famous export of Ireland is the notion of a Leprechaun. Leprechauns have been in existence in Irish legend since the medieval times. Traditionally, leprechauns are tall fairies and often appear to humans as an old man – much different from the modern view of a small, childlike fairy in a green suit. As legend holds, Leprechauns love to collect gold, which they store in a pot and hide at the end of a rainbow. If a human catches a leprechaun, the fairy must grant the human three-wishes before he can be released.