“The luck of the Irish” phrase dates back to the 19th century and is a popular one used among Irish individuals today.
Beyond the phrase, there are symbols correlated with Irish folk that represent luck, including the leprechaun and four leaf clover.
While we know “the luck of the Irish” to have a positive connotation, one theory suggests that was not always the case.
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Here is everything you might not know about the saying you’ve heard time and time again.
- Why do people use the phrase “the luck of the Irish”?
- What does “the luck of the Irish” mean?
- Where did “the luck of the Irish” originate?
1. Why do people use the phrase ‘the luck of the Irish’?
Luck is a well-known phenomenon associated with Irish heritage.
“The luck of the Irish” is only one of the sayings individuals use to refer to Irish people and luck.
Another popular phrase is “wherever you go, whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you,” according to Celtic Titles.
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Additionally, the Irish also use “may your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.”
2. What does ‘the luck of the Irish’ mean?
“The luck of the Irish” means that Irish people are inherently lucky and fortunate, according to Writing Explained. While Irish people wear signs of luck year round, around St. Patrick’s Day Americans tend to see more symbols of luck than usual.
Symbols including the leprechaun and the four leaf clover are considered representations of luck by the Irish.
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Irish folklore says that leprechauns are creatures who guard hidden treasure, commonly pots of gold, according to WorldHistory.org.
They can often be mischievous and are known to be difficult to catch. Irish tales say that if you do catch a leprechaun, he will provide you with three wishes in exchange for his freedom, according to Celtic Wedding Rings.
The four leaf clover, or “lucky clover,” is another Irish symbol of luck. This is a rare variation of a three leaf clover.
The Irish believe if you find one, you will be brought good luck.
3. Where did ‘the luck of the Irish’ originate?
There are many who believe that the Irish phrase did not always have a positive connotation.
Edward T. O’Donnell, an associate professor of history at Holy Cross, described how the phrase originally came to be, via Celtic Titles.
The phrase originated during the second half of the 19th century, according to O’Donnell. A lot of the successful miners at the time were Irish.
The phrase “the luck of the Irish” was used to imply that the miners were finding success purely based on luck, rather than based on intelligence and skill.
Another theory for its origins is that the phrase came from Irish fables, according to Celtic Titles.
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