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SHAMROCK - IS IT the real thing?

As children, we often gathered more clover than shamrock to wear in the run up to St Patrick's Day as it is almost impossible to tell the difference. Shamrock is generally smaller and grows in tighter clumps. But to be honest, nobody seemed to know the difference or care very much back then anyway. You simply washed the mud off the roots and pinned a bunch to your hat or lapel with a safety pin and off you went. Nowadays though, you can buy handy packets of commercially grown fresh shamrock at supermarket checkouts.
But is it the real thing?

Shamrock or clover?Shamrock or clover?

Seedsavers, an organisation set up 15 years ago in Ireland, to save the seed of indigenous varieties of apples and potatoes before they became extinct, reckon only they have ‘real’ shamrock. Thanks to the benevolence of a kindly American who sent them the seed of an old shamrock plant that had been smuggled from Ireland some 99 years previously. It was replanted and the seed harvested and is now happily and (safely for generations to come) growing like a weed at their headquarters in Mountshannon, County Clare.


Irish Defence Forces proudly wearing 'the green'Irish Defence Forces proudly wearing 'the green'

And what about the shamrock that is presented to the Whitehouse on behalf of the people of Ireland, a tricky situation this year! Who grows that and where does the seed come from and is it indeed the real thing? Peter Martin of Living Shamrock.com assures me that it is, the seed having been verified by botanists in UCD as the genuine article. He explained to me how it is grown (roots and all) in a specially patented (soil and water free) gel substance to keep it fresher for longer and handier for export. Which means that it arrives alive and ready to wear on St Patrick's Day at Irish Embassies, Army Camps, Parades and special events all around the world, so now for you

Beannachtí na Féile Pádraig

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Irelands Hidden Gems