Fonts to Use for St. Patrick's Day

Gothic, Celtic and Fonts From the Time of Charlemagne

St. Patrick dates back to Ireland around the year 430. The writing of his day was primarily in an uncial script, which is an uppercase-only font derived from a Roman cursive script. You can get a certain look and feel for your St. Patrick's Day projects by using a wide variety of fonts that are a lumped together as "Celtic," these fonts can range from medieval and Gothic to Gaelic and Carolingian.

Fonts called "Irish," "Gaelic" or "Celtic," may not be historically accurate to the time of St. Patrick but you can still convey the point. Celtic font is a broad category for any style of font associated with the writing of the Celts and Ireland.

Some Celtic fonts are calligraphic or simple sans serif fonts that are adorned with Celtic knots or other Irish symbols. Dingbat symbols with a Celtic or Irish theme are often included in this category.

Font Libraries

There are a number of free font libraries featuring Celtic-styles:

You can purchase a large variety of Celtic-type fonts from My Fonts, Linotype, and Fonts.com. Be sure to check out the blackletter options as well.

Review of the Celtic-Style Fonts

Whether you are designing for St. Patrick's Day or just want to give your text an Irish feel, learn more about the different types of fonts you can use—uncial, insular, Carolignian, blackletter, and Gaelic.

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Uncial and Half-Uncial Fonts

Uncial Fonts for St. Patrick's Day
Some of the different looks of Uncial fonts for St. Patrick's Day projects. The quotation is in JGJ Uncial. "Go Green" uses Aneirin. © J. Bear

Based on styles of writing that came into use around the 3rd century, uncial is a style of majuscule or "all capital" writing. The letters are unjoined, rounded, with curved strokes.

Uncial and half-uncial scripts developed around the same time and look similar. Later styles had more flourishes and decorative letters. Different styles of uncial writing developed in various regions. Not all uncials are Irish. Some uncial fonts look quite different than others.

Free Uncial Fonts

A few free uncial fonts are available. JGJ Uncial by Jeffrey Glen Jackson. In the font set, the uppercase letters are a larger form of the lowercase letters and include some punctuation marks.

Aneirin, provided by Ace Free Fonts, has identical upper and lowercase lettering and include numbers.

Uncial Fonts to Buy

There are a number of font companies, but one of the largest, Linotype, features Omnia Roman by K. Hoefer. This all-capital typeface offers a few alternative letterforms.

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Insular Script Fonts

Insular Script Fonts for St. Patrick's Day
Fonts in the Insular script style have close ties to Ireland. The large initial M is in Rane Insular. The remaining text is Kells SD. © J. Bear

Insular script is a medieval-type script that spread from Ireland to Europe. Insular developed from half-uncial scripts. Insular script has wedge-shaded "ascenders," which are the letter parts that are drawn up past the body of a letter, like the top stem of a "d" or "t."

These fonts might have "i" and "j" without dots and often (but not always).

Free Insular Fonts

A few free insular fonts are available. You can try Kells SD by Steve Deffeyes, which is based on the lettering from the Book of Kells manuscript dating from 384 A.D. The font has identical upper and lowercase including the insular "G" and "g," dotless "i" and "j," numbers, punctuation, symbols, and accented characters.

Rane Insular by Rane Knudsen is based on Knudsen's handwriting combined with an Irish insular script. The font set includes upper and lowercase, numbers, and some punctuation.

Insular Fonts to Buy

From My Fonts, you can buy 799 Insular by Gilles Le Corre. This font set is inspired by the Latin script of the Celtic monasteries of Ireland. This slightly irregular typeface includes upper and lowercase with the insular "G," dotless "i," numbers, and punctuation.

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Carolingian Fonts

Carolingian Fonts for St. Patrick's Day
More closely associated with Charlemagne than Ireland, this is still a popular style for St. Patrick's Day projects. The example here is set in Carolingia. © J. Bear

Carolingian (from the reign of Charlemagne) is a script-writing style that started in mainland Europe and made its way to Ireland and England. It was used up until the end of the 11th century. A Carolingian script has uniformly-sized rounded letters. It has many uncial features but is more legible.

Free Carolingian Fonts

There are two free Carolingian-type fonts available through dafont.com. Carolingia by William Boyd, which has upper and lowercase, numbers, and punctuation, and St Charles by Omega Font Labs. St. Charles is a Carolingian script-inspired font with extra long swooping strokes, identical upper and lowercase (except for size), numbers, some punctuation, and it comes in six styles including with an outline and bold.

Carolingian Fonts to Buy

For a more modern take on the Carolingian script, you can buy Carolina by Gottfried Pott from My Fonts.

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Blackletter Fonts

Blackletter Fonts for St. Patrick's Day
Not all Blackletter fonts work well for St. Patrick's Day, but a few do. Shown here: Minim Outline (T) and Minim. © J. Bear

Also known as Gothic script, Old English or Textura, Blackletter is a style of font that is based on script lettering from 12th to 17th century in Europe.

Unlike the more rounded letters of the uncial and Carolingian scripts, blackletter has sharp, straight, sometimes spiky strokes. Some blackletter styles have a strong association with the German language. Today blackletter is used to evoke an old-fashioned manuscript feel. 

Free Blackletter Fonts

Free blackletter fonts include Cloister Black by Dieter Steffmann, which has upper and lowercase, numbers, punctuation, symbols, and accented characters. Minim by Paul Lloyd offers regular and outline versions, upper and lowercase, numbers, and some punctuation.

Blackletter Fonts to Buy

Blackmoor by David Quay is available from Identifont. It has a slightly distressed ​Old English medieval typeface.

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Gaelic Fonts

Gaelic Fonts for St. Patrick's Day
Gaelic is Irish, a most appropriate choice for St. Patrick's Day. The Gaelic text is in the Gaeilge font while the English text is in the Celtic Gaelige font. © J. Bear

Derived from the insular scripts of Ireland, Gaelic is also called Irish type. It was developed specifically for writing Irish (Gaeilge). It is a popular choice for St. Patrick's Day use in any language. Not all Gaelic-style fonts include the Gaelic letterforms needed for the Celtic family of languages.

Free Irish Gaelic Fonts

You can get Gaeilge by Peter Rempel and Celtic Gaelige by Susan K. Zalusky free from dafont.com. Gaeilge has upper and lowercase including dotless "i" and distinctive insular-shaped "G," numbers, punctuation, symbols, accented characters, and some consonants with the dot above. Celtic Gaelige features identical upper and lowercase (except for size) including distinctive insular-shaped "G," numbers, punctuation, symbols, as well as a dot above the "d" and a dot above the "f." 

Cló Gaelach (Twomey) is available free from Eagle Fonts. The font set includes mostly identical upper and lowercase (except for size) with insular "g" and some accented characters.

Irish Gaelic Fonts to Buy

EF Ossian Gaelic by Norbert Reiners is available to purchase on Font Shop. The font set includes upper and lowercase including insular "G," dotless "i," and other special Gaelic characters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols. Colmcille by Colm and Dara O'Lochlainn is available for purchase by Linotype. It is a Gaelic-inspired text font.

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