The Meaning Of The Irish Claddagh Ring

The Meaning Of The Claddagh Ring

There are three different parts to the Claddagh – the heart (for love), the crown (for loyalty), and the hands (for friendship).

The History Of The Claddagh Ring

The meaning of the Claddagh ring is well known, but the history of the Claddagh ring is shrouded in uncertainty. What is known is that the ring was originally crafted in the ancient fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the City of Galway on Ireland’s west coast. Today, this little village is still in existence, although the growing City of Galway now surrounds it.

Of the different stories surrounding the creation of the first Claddagh ring, the most popular (and believable) is that of Richard Joyce. According to legend, Richard was captured by pirates while working as a fisherman. He was then sold into slavery with the Moors, becoming the property of a Turkish goldsmith. His master was a Moorish goldsmith, and for almost eight years, Richard worked under him learning his craft. Richard was released from slavery in 1689 at the command of King William III, who insisted that all British subjects be freed. Richard then returned to Ireland, despite his Turkish master’s offering of his daughter’s hand in marriage. After settling back in Ireland, Richard created the first Claddagh ring. 

Today, the Claddagh remains one of Ireland’s best known symbols. Its most common use remains Irish jewelry, particularly rings, which are extremely popular Irish gifts. Claddagh rings are considered unisex and may be worn by males or females.  The Claddagh ring has led to the Claddagh being used on many different items – Irish crystal, pewter, home décor items, etc.