The Claddagh Ring gets its name from the Irish phrase "An Cladch" which means "flat stony shore". The design of this ring originated from a small village on the stony coasts of Ireland.
The Legend of the Claddagh
There are a variety of legends behind this ring, although no one really knows the accurate story.
The legend that is most likely the closest to the historical truth would be that of the tale of a man named Richard Joyce, a member of the Joyce clan and a native of Galway.
The legend goes something like this: Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700, is said to have invented the Claddagh design as we know it. Legend has it that Joyce left his town to work in the West Indies, intending to marry his love when he returned. However, his ship was captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs around 1675. In Algiers, with his new master, he was trained in his craft. When William III became king, he demanded the Moors release all British prisoners. As a result, Richard Joyce was set free. The goldsmith had such a great amount of respect for Richard Joyce that he offered Joyce his daughter and half his wealth if Joyce stayed, but he denied his
offer and returned home to marry his love who awaited his return. During his time with the Moors he forged a ring as a symbol of his love for her. Upon his return he presented her with the ring and they were married.
And then there is another story that tells of a Prince who fell in love with a common maid. To convince her father his feelings were genuine and he had no intentions of "using" the girl, he designed a ring with hands representing friendship, a crown representing loyalty, and a heart representing love. He proposed to the maid with this ring, and after the father heard the explanation of the symbolism of the ring, he gave his blessing.
I personally like the last story best, but as previously stated, no one really knows the real story of the ring because it has been too loaded with myth to precisely identify the true origin.
This ring really fascinates me for several different reasons. First of all, I have maintained an interest for the heritage of Ireland for some time now and am intrigued with the Emerald Isle and the people who inhabit the island.
This ring also has a very interesting meaning to it depending on how you wear it.
On the band are two hands clasping a heart, which are usually usually surmounted by a crown. This is said to symbolize love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).
- Traditionally, if the ring is on the right hand with the heart facing outward and away from the body, this indicates that the person wearing the ring is not in any serious relationship, and may in fact be single and looking for a relationship: "their heart is open."
- When worn on the right hand but with the heart facing inward toward the body, this indicates the person wearing the ring is in a relationship, or that "someone has captured their heart".
- A Claddagh worn on the left hand ring finger facing outward away from the body generally indicates that the wearer is engaged.
- When the ring is on the left hand ring finger and facing inward toward the body, it generally means that the person wearing the ring is married.
This ring is usually given as a gift to a friend or loved one, although I'll admit that the one I own I ended up purchasing for myself. (yes, I was too impatient to wait... ;) but the ring really appealed to me and to be honest, I never would have expected to have been given one by a friend or an admirer. And the ring was just too lovely to not buy it. *grin* But maybe you'd like to receive it as a gift, having the ring as a symbolism of love, friendship, and loyalty. :)
"Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness."