St. Patrick’s Day Collections

By Rachel Hoffman


   Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and he lived in the 5th century. The feast day of this holy bishop and confessor is March 17th. The feast is celebrated inside and outside of Ireland as a cultural holiday. Exquisite items and art have been crafted to honor St. Patrick, which are collected and preserved by museums, families, and individual collectors.
   We especially associate the shamrock with St. Patrick and Ireland. The Celtic cross is another motif associated with them. These motifs have been used in jewelry and objets d’art. The best-loved gem of the Irish people is the emerald, and green is the color used in association with St. Patrick and the land where he is most honored.
   There are many collectible statues of St. Patrick and paintings of Ireland’s people and landscapes. There are beautiful coats of arms and tartans as well. The harp is a symbol of Irish pride. People love Irish music, and they collect old musical instruments, phonograph records, and sheet music. The Irish are known as devoted dancers, and dance and dance hall ephemera and photographs have been highly assessed and auctioned.
   A favorite item of young and old alike is the traditional Irish claddagh ring, which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty.
   Some countries have a large minority of people of Irish descent, including the United States and Canada. Famous and influential people have claimed Irish descent. The Irish are known for their love of humor. And they have wonderful folk tales, some telling of leprechauns and fairies. Not surprisingly, people of every nationality take pleasure in the Irish heritage and Irish artifacts.
   The marking “Made in Ireland” causes many a heart to beat fast. When examining a vintage or antique item, look for markings and clues of its origin. “Erin go Bragh” is an anglicized version of Éirinn go Brách. It is often translated “Ireland Forever.”
   Be on the lookout this year for St. Patrick’s Day and Irish collectibles. They include religious treasures, weapons, furniture, silver, ceramics, paintings, costumes, postcards, pub décor, and glassware.
   You can visit the National Museum of Ireland on the Web at And the National Gallery of Ireland is at Museums provide information that keeps us up-to-date on research and conservation.

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