The shamrock refers to the young sprigs of clover or trefoil. It is known as a symbol of Ireland, with St. Patrick having used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity, according to legend. The name shamrock is derived from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover (seamair) meaning simply "little clover" or "young clover”.
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As St. Patrick is Ireland's patron saint, shamrock has been used as a symbol of Ireland since the 18th century, in a similar way to how a rose is used for England, thistle for Scotland and leek for Wales. The shamrock first began to change from a symbol purely associated with St. Patrick to an Irish national symbol when it was taken up as an emblem by rival militias, during the turbulent politics of the late eighteenth century.
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