The Story of the Claddagh Ring

The Story of the Claddagh Ring

The Story of the Claddagh ring

As Irish people, we place a great emphasis on symbols as we come from a long line of craftsmen and artists, dating as far back as the Celts who were expert craftsmen who created a huge amount of the designs we see in Irish jewellery today. 

More to this point, we are also a nation of storytellers with much of our symbolism and meaning being tied back to some incredible mystical stories, often having love as a core theme at the heart of many of these Irish legends.

The Claddagh ring is no exception to this, and if anything, encapsulates both symbolism and storytelling in one beautifully traditional piece of Irish jewellery. 

As the Claddagh ring has such significant ties to love, what better time than just before Valentine's Day to learn about why the ring developed this meaning and how we still embrace it today?

Origins of the Claddagh Ring

As legend would have it, this love story speaks of the tale of two lovers who wanted nothing more than to spend their lives together, despite all odds.

A fisherman by the name of Richard Joyce was said to be out at sea when he was captured by Algerian Pirates and sold into slavery. 

Whilst in slavery, Joyce was trained to be a goldsmith, becoming well-versed in the trade. Even after becoming a very accomplished goldsmith, he never could forget the one true love he was forced to leave behind. 

When the time came to release the slaves, Joyce’s master offered him his only daughter’s hand in marriage in a desperate attempt not to lose one of his best tradesmen. But Richard longed to be with his love so deeply that he refused, knowing he had only one place to be.

Richard then eagerly returned home to the small fishing village of Claddagh in Galway where he met his beloved awaiting his arrival. 

Upon his return, he brought with him a ring he had crafted during his time in slavery and used it to marry the love of his life. When giving it to his love he exclaimed “With this ring, I give you my heart and crown it with my love”.

From this moment on, the Claddagh ring became one of Ireland’s most poignant symbols of love, friendship and loyalty. 

The ring and its story have since travelled far and wide, gaining great popularity in America starting in the 18th century, when many Irish people emigrated during the height of the Great Irish Famine, bringing with them Irish culture and heritage. 

The Claddagh ring became such a significant piece of Irish heritage with beautiful meaning, that it quickly became an heirloom in many families, living on from generation to generation, making it that much more meaningful to wearers of the ring. 

What do the symbols in the ring represent?

As a whole, the ring has come to be known as a symbol of friendship, love and loyalty, defined by elements of the Claddagh Ring itself. 

  • The hands are the symbol of friendship
  • The heart is the symbol of love 
  • The crown is the symbol of loyalty 

How to Wear Your Claddagh Ring

Believe it or not, the symbolism of the ring does not stop with the beautiful and mystical story of Richard Joyce.

As time progressed, the way people chose to wear the ring ended up becoming hugely symbolic of one’s relationship status. 

  • If you wear the ring on your right hand with the point of the heart facing toward your fingertips; you could be single.
  • If you wear the ring on your right hand with the point of the heart facing toward your wrist; you could be in a relationship.
  • If you wear the ring on your left hand with the point of the heart facing toward the fingertips; you could be engaged.
  • If you wear the ring on your left hand with the point of the heart facing toward the wrist; you could be married.

Another rule of thumb often associated with the position of the ring is that if you wear the ring with the tip of the heart pointed toward the wrist, you are said to be in a relationship. If it is worn with the tip of the heart pointed away from you and towards the fingertips, you are said to be single.  

We hope you enjoyed our blog on The Story of the Claddagh Ring!

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