My friends —
It’s Saint Patrick’s Day !
I hope you enjoy this
post which features
a collection of cards
dedicated to the holiday –
a national holiday in Eire –
the Republic of Ireland.
It always amazes me
just how much of a
time capsule these
old cards can be —
They can help us
understand the people
and times from whence they came.
And they’re also quite beautiful,
so many of them….
…. wonderfully conceived
The tradition of sending holiday
themed cards peaked in the
….. when brand new mass-printing
technologies and techniques
were being applied to the medium.
Before that time, many cards
had been laborously produced by hand.
But now, the card producers had
all the advantages of the
machine age at their disposal.
Color process, lithography,
and tinting systems
shaping, modeling, folding,
engraving, texturizing —
the card manufacturers of that era
used every trick in the book
to make their cards stand out,
and of course, sell.
Various materials other than paper
were also used, including
wood, silk, and even metals.
The work of artists like:
Leonetto Cappiello, Raphael Kirchner,
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley,
Gino Boccosile, Umberto Brunelleschi,
Ellen Clapsaddle, Edmond Vernier,
Charles Dana Gibson, et al,
graced literally tens of thousands
of post card and
folding card designs.
So, in a way,
every time someone
sent someone else a card,
they were sending them
a little piece of art.
And this awareness of the
artistic value of these vintage
cards inspires many folks,
including myself, to collect them.
Holiday card collecting
is a popular genre ,
but some collectors narrow
the field even more,
by collecting cards from
one specific holiday,
like Christmas ( common )
to St. Patricks Day (unusual).
St. Patricks Day cards from the
era of around 1880 to around 1920
often share common symbols
and design themes…..
Children were very popular
subjects in St. Patty’s Day cards.
Since St. Patrick’s Day
was a Catholic holiday,
the sweet innocence of children
was meant to pluck at the receiver’s
heartstrings, and conscience —
Many a believer trundled off to
confession after getting one of these.
Of course, children also represented
joy and simplicity, both of which
are highly valued in Irish culture.
One common symbol used on many
of the cards was the Shamrock.
The Shamrock is inexorably
tied to Saint Patrick…
Upon his return to Ireland
as a Bishop, one of the tools
he used to explain the mysteries
of the Trinity was supposedly
the Shamrock, as representative
of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The Shamrock is a different symbol
from the four leafed clover….
The Four Leaf Clover is an
emblem of the “Luck of the Irish”,
……… and is said to represent
the virtues of faith, hope, love, and luck.
You’ll see both varieties on St. Patrick’s Day cards.
It’s also very common to see
pictured the musical instruments
of the Gaelic culture,
…… called the ” Tiompán Ghaelach ”
— the Gaelic Drum,
More commonly, you’ll find a
stringed instrument called,
the “Cláirseach Ghaelach “.
This is what most people
refer to as an “Irish Harp”.
These traditional harps,
dating from at least the 8th century,
would have been originally strung
with metal wire-
like iron, silver, brass, or even gold.
It is so common on the cards
of the early 20th century…
At least half the cards I have seen
from the period feature it
on a banner, or as
a symbol or device.
Some cards feature traditional
short stemmed clay pipes-
called ” dúidín “.
Also featured are images of a
benevolent looking St. Patrick,
and the Celtic Cross.
The Celtic Cross is said to have
introduced to Ireland by Saint Patrick,
as a way of equating the Irish Celt’s
reverence for the sun with the love of God.
Many of the larger Celtic Crosses
seen across Ireland date from
around the 8th Century.
These Celtic Crosses are often
decorated with intricate carvings
and runes, and represent an
important part of Irish artistic heritage.
Also you might find the Irish Coat of Arms,
which is a golden Cláirseach on a blue field.
And of course, you’ll very often
find the legend ” Erin Go Bragh ” —
or it’s Gaelic original form —
” Éirinn go Brách . ”
This phrase sums up the spirit
of the Saint Patrick’s Day Holiday nicely,
It warms the heart of
every person of Irish descent,
………….. where-ever he may be,
where-ever he may travel.
Éirinn go Brách —
” Ireland Forever ” .
Happy Saint Patricks Day,
to all my dear friends and readers.
everybody’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day !
Éirinn go Brách !