History of the Claddagh rings
By: Paul Gibney
The Claddagh ring is Irelands most romantic and enduring Celtic jewelry tradition. It is customary for the ring to be worn as a wedding or engagement ring and then to be handed down from generation to generation.
Claddagh itself is one of Ireland’s oldest fishing villages just outside Galway City in the west of Ireland. Legend has it that one of its residents a Richard Joyce was abducted while out fishing, by Moorish pirates and taken back to Tunisia. There he was to become a slave and learned the craft of a Goldsmith. In 1670 he was released when King William III came to the throne and concluded an agreement whereby all his subjects who where held captive were allowed to return to their homes. Richard`s former master pleaded with him to stay, marry one of his daughters and inherit half of all his wealth. But all to no avail Richard was returning to his one true Irish love back in Claddagh. When he arrived home he found that his true love was unmarried and still waiting for him. They set up a Goldsmiths store together. Where Richard made the first Claddagh rings and used at their own wedding.
In earlier times in Claddagh village the design of the ring was the symbol of the “fishing Kings of Claddagh” the meaning being then “in love and friendship let us reign”. The heart symbolizes love, the hands symbolizes friendship and the crown loyalty. The popularity of the Claddagh ring was helped by the mass exodus from Ireland during the great famine 1845-50.
Some famous wearers of the Claddagh ring include Queen Victoria, Edward VII and lately Buffy the vampire slayer (who was given the ring by Angel). The present Governor of New York recently mentioned that over 200 Claddagh rings had been recovered from the attack on the world trade center on September 11th 2001.
The tradtional Claddagh symbols - heart for love, hands for friendship and crown for loyalty.
How to wear your Claddagh Ring;
Right hand with the heart pointing outwards = Fancy free
Right hand with the heart pointing inwards = Spoken for
Left hand with the heart pointing inwards = Found true love
About the Author
Paul Gibney is a co-founder of http://www.claddaghstore.com one of Ireland largest online Celtic Jewelry Stores.
Return to Index