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Common Irish Tattoos: What Do They Mean?

Updated December 16, 2019 106.1k views14 items

Chances are you've probably seen your share of Irish tattoos. Whether they take the form of a cool-looking Celtic knot or a claddagh symbol (which was first made popular by the claddagh ring), you may have wondered about the actual meanings of Irish tattoos. Get ready to get mystical and dive into this collection of popular Irish tattoo designs, complete with their meanings.

This list includes a series of Irish tattoo pictures that represent a rich cultural history with a ton symbolism, some of which goes back centuries in time. So whether you’re looking for Irish symbol tattoos to represent your heritage or just occasionally find yourself wondering what various Irish tattoos mean, this is the list for you. Keep scrolling for a peek at some of the most popular Ireland tattoos.
  • "Tada Gan Iarracht"

    If you're the type who knows that real life lies beyond your comfort zone, then the "tada gan iarracht" tattoo may be for you. This old Irish phrase means "nothing without effort" and is a nice reminder that life is out there for the taking, if you're willing to do the work.
  • "Mo Chuisle"

    This Gaelic term of endearment, pronounced "muh khish-la," literally means "my pulse," but is commonly used like you might use the term "my love." This is a common tattoo to honor a significant other, and is definitely a hell of a lot smarter than drunkenly inking on a new flame's name. Other variations are "a chuisle mo chroi" which means "pulse of my heart," or "mo chuisle mo chroi" which means "my pulse of my heart." 

  • The Celtic Cross

    The Celtic cross is a symbol with a history so vast and rich that it's exact meaning can be tricky to pin down. For some, the symbol represents the unification of the four elements and directions. Others say that St. Patrick combined the Christian cross with the traditional sun cross in an attempt to bring Christianity to the pagans. Regardless, the symbol is recognized around the globe as a symbol of Celtic pride. 
  • The Celtic Butterfly

    Celtic history is rich with imagery of butterflies, which have been known to symbolize everything from transformation and rebirth to peace and tranquility. The butterfly also owes some of it's popularity among the people of Ireland to an old Celtic legend called "The Legend of Etain." It's heroine, a young woman who embodied the Celtic standard of beauty, has been revered as everything from a fairy princess to a sun goddess.