Awesome Irish Tattoos To Celebrate Your Celtic Heritage

The Celtic people are some of the most ancient in the world. They trace their origins to before modern civilization. Today, Celtic people are mainly from modern-day Ireland and Scotland, and this rich ancestry created strong family ties. 

If your family has Celtic heritage, you might be wondering how to best honor that tradition. One of the most common ways is through Celtic or Irish tattoos.

These are incredibly popular, and there are a lot of options to choose from and personalize. You’ve most definitely seen these types of tattoos for yourself, but you might not know the meanings behind them.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most awesome tattoos to celebrate your Celtic heritage. 

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Some of the most popular Irish tattoos are the Celtic symbols.

The Celtic designs themselves date back to ancient times as Celtic warriors would often have tattoos to scare off their enemies.

They used the dried and cooked Woad plant leaves to make a paste that would then leave a blue color in the tattoo.

What makes the Celtic tattoos unique?

There was no difference between women and men tattoos – they were completely gender-neutral. The knotwork used was believed to have magical protective powers.

Other tattoos included the Celtic zodiac symbol, used as a way to connect with one’s inner self.

Another common and powerful symbol is the Celtic dragon, that represented wisdom and fertility.

Ancient Celtic people also viewed other animals positively, such as spiders, bears and wolves.

Irish Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best Celtic and Irish tattoo ideas.

Take a look below, and swipe right to check them out all:

Celtic Cross

By far one of the most popular Celtic tattoos is the Celtic cross. This is one of the most noticeable symbols of Irish heritage, and you’ll see it frequently in art and religion. 

This symbol takes a similar shape to the regular Christian cross, but with a few key differences. First, there’s a circle that wraps around the interior of the cross, connecting the 4 arms. In addition, Celtic crosses commonly feature additional decorations and adornments. 

What does this cross mean? For most, it’s a symbol of strength since it looks similar to a Celtic shield. Because of the circular interior, it’s also a way to represent the earth’s connected elements.

No matter what this shape means to you, there’s no denying it’s a source of Celtic pride.

The Triquetra

For the Celtic people, the three interlocking loops form a “triquetra.” This is a type of Celtic knot. As you can see from the shape itself, there’s no clear beginning or end. Because of this endless looping shape, the triquetra is a symbol of infinity. 

The Celtic knot is used as a sign of protection. This knot, in particular, has added Christian significance since the 3 loops represent the holy trinity. The triquetra is a simple yet powerful Irish tattoo design.

Irish Harp

If you visit Ireland, you’ll see harp imagery just about everywhere. From Dublin’s famous bridge to the Guinness logo, harps played a strong role in Irish history since ancient times.

Why is the harp so popular? It’s said to be a symbol of the immortality of the soul. Even after death, the legacy of the Celtic lives on forever.

The harp is a popular Celtic tattoo since it’s so customizable. It’s easy to create a harp with the symbols, colors, and design you love. This is also an easy tattoo to place anywhere on your body. 

The Tree of Life

While many cultures have their own trees of life, few are as recognizable as the Celtic tree of life. This tree is characterized by seemingly endless branches reaching towards the sky, taking the shape of a circle. The branches are all connected, weaving into a knot of their own. The roots are tangled with the branches, symbolizing the cycle of life. 

The tree of life is sometimes combined with the serpent, where the serpent symbolizes water and the tree Mu – the mother nature.

According to ancient Celtic beliefs, the tree of life connected both heaven and earth. It was a sign of wisdom and hope for many, and it still has much significance in Ireland today.

The Irish Clover – Shamrock

Of course, you can’t talk about Irish tattoos without mentioning shamrock – the Irish clover. Clovers were popularized by Irish legend.

According to stories, St. Patrick used clovers as a symbol for the holy trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was how he helped convert Celtic pagans to Christianity. 

Today, the clover is still a symbol of Christianity. In addition, it’s also come to mean an Irish sign for good luck. By wearing a clover literally on your body, you’re welcoming good fortune into your life. 

Gaelic Phrases

Last but not least, many people choose their favorite Gaelic phrase for their Irish tattoo. Gaelic is a Celtic language that’s still spoken in Ireland today. Not only can you choose whatever phrase means something to you, but this is a subtle way to honor your Gaelic heritage. 

What phrases are most common? 

  • “Mo Chuisle” –  My love or pulse of my heart
  • “Tada Gan Iarracht” – Nothing without effort
  • “Gra’ Mo Chroi” – Love of my heart

Whether you honor your sweetheart or your spirit, these phrases above are a great choice. Just make sure you pay special attention to the lettering! Gaelic is a challenging language to capture.

Leprechaun Tattoos

Rising from the Irish folklore, leprechauns are little fairies dressed like shoemakers, with a crooked hat and a leather apron. The word itself actually means “little body” – they are usually depicted as small, old men of about 2 feet height.

Unfriendly and distant as they are, leprechauns live alone making shoes, but the treasure hunters like them because they have a hidden pot of gold!

Which of These Irish Tattoos Is Right For You?

If you want a tattoo that honors your Gaelic or Irish heritage, these ideas below have you covered. From subtle symbolism of ravens to ancient languages, there are no limits to what you can create.

Having a Geilic tattoo or an Irish tattoo brings you closer to your ancestors, and it’s a fun reminder that our legacy lives on. 

If you are of Celtic heritage, you can also dedicate this tattoo to your family member such as your mother, or if you’re mixed heritage, it with your other tattoos that can include a mandala or cherry blossom tree.

Other popular symbols that are also connected to Celtic mythology are moon and phoenix, that can be mixed with more popular Celtic elements.

Additionally in Celtic mythology, the eagle is traditionally seen as one of the oldest of all creatures, surpassed only by the salmon in wisdom and age. Owls are also highly respected as wise.

What type of tattoo above resonates with you?

A bit of inspiration goes a long way towards helping you decide on the perfect artwork.

In addition, working with a skilled tattoo artist ensures you get exactly what you’re looking for, whether it be a small tattoo or a full sleeve tattoo. It’s time to connect to your Irish and Gaelic roots!

Are you looking for a custom Irish tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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