A Little History of the Shamrock

Learn some fun facts about shamrock, Ireland’s national plant. Plus some great ideas for shamrock based edible goodies from our Good Food Ireland members, just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Shamrock is the seasonal plant of the moment! Now in the shops, in time for Saint Patrick’s Day this Thursday, March 17th. To get you in the mood, we’re rockin’ the shamrock with some fun facts about this wild plant:

  • Shamrock is considered the national plant of Ireland. So embedded is this little plant in Irish legend, it is said by some that wild shamrock won’t actually grow outside the Emerald Isle.
  • Shamrock is a type of clover.
  • Its name is taken from the Irish word ‘seamrog’, meaning ‘little or young clover’
  • There is some discussion regarding the proper scientific name for real Irish shamrock. Recorded names include Trifolium dubium (lesser clover) and Trifolium repens (white clover), which is the species generally on sale this time of year. Trifolium is the genus, which refers to the three-leaved formation of shamrock.
  • Saint Patrick is said to have used shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost when he first began to convert the Irish to Christianity. Which is why it is inextricably linked to the Saint.
  • The Saint Patrick’s Day tradition of ‘Drowning the Shamrock’, involves putting a clump of the green stuff into the last shot of whiskey of the night on March 17th. The glass is raised, the Saint toasted at the end of a wonderful day of celebration, and the whiskey drunk through the shamrock. Then everyone goes home. Allegedly…
  • Shamrock, like many wild plants, was traditionally used for medicinal reasons. It was often boiled and mixed with pork fat to treat inflammation of the joints.
  • The President of the United States is always presented with a bowl of shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day. This tradition began in 1952, when a box of shamrock was brought to the White House by the Irish Ambassador John Joseph Hearne, as a gift to President Harry Truman, who was not at home to receive it. The shamrock was left with a member of the President’s staff. Humble beginnings gave birth to what is now an official ceremony which takes place every year. Every March 17th, shamrock is now presented to the President personally by Ireland’s Taoiseach.

Now you know a bit about the plant, let’s whet your appetite with some lovely shamrock goodies to eat:

Keogh’s Shamrock and Sour Cream Crisps are flavoured with wild shamrock. A seasonal speciality from the family farm in North County Dublin, where every potato for these crisps can be tracked from field to bag with the Keogh SpudNav! 

Seymour’s Biscuits make a special Shamrock Shortbread for this time of year. Real Bandon butter goes into these melt in the mouth hand-made biscuits from West Cork. A delicious treat on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Our chocolatiers make their own chocolate shaped shamrocks from best quality chocolate. Perfect as gifts for a chocolate lover you know!