What Is The Luck Of The Irish?

Article Updated On 15th March 2021

St Patrick's Day falls on the 17th March and it's celebrated across the world. People who aren't even Irish or remotely related to anyone Irish get involved with the celebrations. Perhaps it's the opportunity to drink a few pints of Guinness or maybe just have some fun?

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A 19th Century Mining Term

St Patrick's Day aside, the 'Luck Of The Irish' is prevalent in gambling circles. Rainbow Riches, Irish Luck, Finn & The Swirly Spin, Irish Eyes and Clover Rollover are just of the slot games you can play. Many feature leprechauns, four leaf clovers and lucky rainbows. But what exactly is the 'Luck Of The Irish'?

According to Irish Central the term doesn't stem directly from Ireland. They claim it originated in the 19th Century when Irish and Irish American miners successfully made their fortunes. The article goes on to say it was actually a derisory term as it was belived their success was down to sheer luck and not their mining acumen!

Irish Luck Or Bad Luck?

The above sounds like a rational explanation for the term, but Tour Ireland offer other ideas. They do cover the mining expression, but also suggest that it could have been used to undermine the Irish in the country they emigrated to. If an Irishman succeeded then it was down to luck rather than their own hard work.

Tour Ireland also suggest that the expression may have an inverse meaning. Irish Luck could in fact be bad luck! History hasn't always been kind to the Irish - e.g. potato famine - and struggles in other countries after emigration colluded to them not having much luck.

Lucky Leprechauns

A more romantic view of the expression is that it stems from the Irish love of leprechauns. Leprechauns can only be found in Ireland and meeting one is therefore a lucky event. Leprechauns also are wealthy creatures who keep their gold in a pot at the end of a rainbow (Good Luck Symbols). Finding that gold isn't easy - so if you do locate it, along with a Leprechaun then luck is most certainly with you.

We think that the mining origin is the most plausible explanation, although it's a surprise to discover there's derision within the expression. Thankfully, these days it's meant as an expression of really good luck and that ties in nicely with the mythical origin involving leprechauns, four leaf clovers and gold at the end of the rainbow.

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