What is a Claddagh ring?

What is a Claddagh ring?

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Posted Thu 1 Feb 2024 9:56 AM
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A Claddagh ring is a piece of traditional jewellery from the island of Ireland. On the ring, there is a crown to symbolise loyalty, a heart to symbolise love and two hands to symbolise friendship. 

There are numerous ways you may have encountered a Claddagh ring: perhaps it was a gift from that special someone, maybe it was passed down as a family heirloom, or you may have just seen it on the finger of a stranger, a celebrity or in a shop window. Regardless of how you discovered the Claddagh ring, we’re here to tell you all you need to know about it, including the ring’s history, how to wear it and where you can find it.

History
Just west of Galway city is the ancient fishing village of Claddagh, which is where the ring originated. But when it comes to how it all started, two stories are told… The first story follows Margaret Joyce who lived in the Claddagh and married a wealthy Spaniard. Margaret inherited her husband’s money when he died, and used it charitably within the community. To thank her, an eagle dropped the Claddagh ring on her legs. The second story speaks of Richard Joyce. Richard was captured and enslaved en route to the West Indies where he was sold to a goldsmith who trained him. Once free, he returned to Galway, continued his goldsmith work and created the Claddagh ring.

How to wear the ring
Traditionally, how you wear the ring depends on the status of your heart... If you are in love, you wear the Claddagh ring with the heart’s point facing in towards you. If you are single, you wear the ring the opposite way, with the heart’s point facing away from you. Today, it doesn’t really matter how you wear the Claddagh ring, so feel free to wear it any way that pleases you! 

Where you can find the Claddagh ring
The Claddagh ring has grown widely since its humble roots. It has even been seen on the hands of Walt Disney, Sonia O’Sullivan, Bing Crosby and Queen Victoria. You’ll find it in many jewellers across the island of Ireland, but if you can, you should visit Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold in Galway city where the original Claddagh ring has been made since 1750. You’ll even receive a certificate of authenticity when you purchase a ring and there’s a nice range of exhibits including the “world's smallest Claddagh ring”. 

Why not make a Valentine’s Day trip of it? Spend a romantic weekend exploring Galway city, visit the jewellers and stay in one of the lovely B&Bs or guesthouses in the village of Claddagh. 

Does anyone in our Community have a Claddagh Ring?
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