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History of Ireland
Fables and Folklore

Is it true that green color may signify bad luck in Ireland?


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March 30, 2009 2:48PM

not in the area in which i was reared - south east. i can't answer for everywhere else. No way! green is not a symbol of bad luck in Ireland.It shows of prosperous green lands. Im from the west coast. I have never heard of it being unlucky It did in years gone by. Green is the favourite colour of the Little People. If you wore too much of it, you could offend them and they would dry your cows, steal your children, ruin your crops etc. This belief only died out in the mid twentieth century.

Certainly my Grandparents would not wear green, and very little green cloth was sold here until the 1950s. Answer I grew up in Dublin (born 1932) and nobody thought green unlucky; you saw it everywhere. Gates, railings, fences, letterboxes, telephone booths etc were always painted green. Since ancient time Ireland has been known as the Emerald Isle and the old Irish flag was green with a gold harp. Green was symbolic of Ireland and of Irish nationalism and perhaps some people may have avoided wearing it in case they might be suspected of being "rebels". (Cf. references to green in rebel songs: Wearing of the green - 1798; Boolavogue - 1898; Wrap the green flag round me - 1916). I never heard that green was unlucky until I started mixing with English people and assumed their belief was based on the association green/Irish and the fact that their Irish "subjects" had always given them trouble!