As in most cultures, motherhood has a deeply religious significance in Irish tradition. Among Irish Roman Catholics, motherhood is closely associated with the “Blessed Mother,” or Blessed Virgin Mary. The Irish also cherish their Saints, several of whom are women.
Here are some ideas to help you get started to find the perfect Irish traditional gift for a devout Catholic mother. Included are blessings and prayers appropriate for any mother on her special day.
Irish Rosary Beads
- The rosary is considered a sacred object among Catholics, to be handled with great reverence. It is a set of prayer beads that honors the joyful, sorrowful and glorious events (“mysteries”) in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
- The rosary has a circle of five sets of ten small beads (decades) with larger beads between decades – each bead corresponding to a prayer. A crucifix and three prayer beads hang separately from the circle and mark the beginning and end of the rosary.
- The word rosary means a garland of roses and the rose is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. To Catholics, rosaries are just as sacred if whether they are made of plastic or made of diamonds. They are considered especially holy when blessed by a priest. Beautiful rosaries, both inexpensive and very valuable ones are available to purchase for Mother’s Day gifts for devout Catholic mothers.
- Irish rosary beads are often made with traditional Irish symbols and materials. There are rosaries with beads in the form of shamrocks and many have Celtic crosses in lieu of the crucifix. Some are made of precious materials from Ireland, such as Connemara marble and Waterford crystal.
The Celtic Cross
The Celtic cross has a circle around it that is said to have originated when the Celts were pagans, and represented the Sun. It was incorporated into the Christian cross as a symbol of eternity. The Celtic cross is often decorated with distinctly Celtic-shaped intertwining loops, called knots, that represent eternity, and are found on many Irish jewels, such as both men’s and women’s “eternity rings.”
The Celtic cross is easy to find on the Internet, where numerous sites sell traditional versions as well as stylized versions, in various metals and sizes. Although Celtic crosses are usually worn as pendants, there are brooches and tiny pins as well as all kinds of gifts that are decorated with the Celtic cross.
Irish Prayer Locket
The Irish prayer locket is usually a rounded cross with the same design of interlocking knots, although some are made in the shape of a heart. They are just large enough to hold a tiny folded prayer inside. Each locket comes with the poem:
- “Write down your prayer, fold it up small. Place it in your locket… and remember; God is the answer to all.”
A Book of Irish Saints
There are many Irish saints and their stories are fascinating. There is a unique book called:
- Irish Saints, by Robert T. Riley
There is a very detailed review full of praise for the book by Miryam Soresh, who, although not of Irish descent, found the book to be well written, well researched, and composed with great love and reverence.
St. Brigid’s Cross
St. Brigid of Ireland, also known as “Bride” and “Bride of Kildare,” was said to be the daughter of a pagan, who heard St. Patrick preach as a young girl. After a fascinating story, she became a nun and founded convents throughout Ireland.
According to Irish legend, St. Brigid fashioned a cross out of straw and used it to perform a miraculous healing. St. Brigid’s cross is very simple and beautiful. It is designed with three narrow loops that form a triangle, the symbol of the Holy Trinity, or God. Pendants of St. Brigid’s cross look remarkably modern, because of their simplicity and abstract design. They are very striking and make a beautiful religious adornment.
- There are websites that have kits or provide instructions to make a St. Brigid’s cross out of straw, just like the original cross. Making a St. Brigid’s cross for Mother’s Day would be a good project for a child to make for his or her mother.
Irish Blessings and Prayers
The Internet abounds with websites of Irish blessings and prayers for all occasions. The Irish seem to have a prayer or blessing for virtually any occasion.
Many websites offer beautifully inscribed Irish blessings, as well as blessings and prayers engraved on plaques, or printed or inscribed on jewelry, keepsakes, stationary and any manner of gift. Numerous websites offer to personalize the blessing or prayer.
Religious Irish Mother’s Day Gifts
You should not have any problem finding an “Irish” religious gift – whether it be a simple keepsake or a precious heirloom – for your mom on Mother’s Day. Religious gifts are not only cherished for a lifetime, but also will remind your mother of your love all year round.