Claddagh Ring Meaning
It is difficult to separate fact from fiction in the history of the Claddagh ring. What we do know by scholarly studies is the name of the Claddagh ring comes from a fishing village in Ireland called Claddagh. Claddagh is a beach area in the western part of Galway, Ireland.
It was in Claddagh that the first Claddagh ring was said to have been made. The Claddagh ring was first made sometime in the 17th century during the reign of Queen Mary II or the reign of King William III.
The symbol of the Claddagh is a pair of hands holding a heart adorned with a crown.
In earlier times, probably about the time Claddagh rings were first made the design was a symbol of the “Fishing Kings of Claddagh”, the meaning was “in love and friendship let us reign”.
Some of the earliest Claddagh rings to been traced back bear the mark and initials of Richard Joyce.
The story of how Richard Joyce created the Claddagh symbol is as much legend as it is history. The story goes that Richard Joyce who lived in Claddagh Ireland, which was a small fishing village left Claddagh which is where the river Corrib meets Galway bay, on a ship bound to the plantations of the West Indies. That week he was supposed to be married.
The ship Joyce was traveling on was captured by Mediterranean Algerian pirates and the crew were sold as slaves. Joyce was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him in his craft. Richard Joyce became a master in the goldsmith trade. While doing so he crafted a ring for the women he was supposed to marry. He could not forget her. She was the inspiration to the design of the Claddagh Ring.
In 1689 Joyce was released by pressure from King William III. The story goes that the Moorish Goldsmith offered Richard half of his wealth and his only daughters hand in marriage if he would stay. Joyce refused and went back home to Claddagh, Ireland. Claddagh ring in hand.
Richard returned home and found his fiancé had never married. Richard gave her the ring and they were married. He set up a goldsmith shop in his home town of Claddagh, Ireland.
The Claddagh symbol as mentioned is a pair of hands holding a heart with a crown on top of the heart. These elements had all been used in jewelry before but the Claddagh is the first known use of all three together. The hands represent friendship. The heart is symbolic of love and the crown means loyalty.
The Claddagh ring was predominately a local ring in the Irish regions until the late 1800's. Some suggest the great potato famine of 1847-1849 where 1000's of Irish people made a vast exodus, mostly to America and other Western locales.
These determined Irish folk kept the Claddagh ring symbolism going and tradition was that the mother past it down to the first married daughter when she was married. This made the Claddagh ring a heirloom that was worn with great pride.
The Claddagh ring is the most popular Irish wedding ring and Irish engagement ring. Irish rings has two major elements. The type of jewelry that depicts Irish culture and the type that reflects Ireland’s Celtic heritage. It is not uncommon to blend Irish elements and Celtic elements together. Even with the Claddagh symbol which has gone past a ring symbol to its own jewelry genre, Celtic elements can be found.
The deep meaning of the Irish Claddagh ring makes it a perfect choice for all gift giving occasions like Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day and Birthdays. The Classic sterling silver Claddagh ring makes a perfect Irish Celtic wedding rings, Irish Celtic engagement ring, Friendship ring or Promise ring.
However, men wear the Celtic Claddagh ring almost as much as the women do. The styles and designs tend to be slightly bigger and heavier for men but those who are proud of their Irish heritage wear Irish Claddagh rings.