I like to delve into the history, costuming, foods, and customs of places and holidays. World cultures and traditions are fascinating.
Celtic Mystery Encircles In Threes
Ireland's Ring Of Tales, Love, And Legend
Though it hasn't materialized yet, It has been a dream of mine to someday visit Ireland, hear its music firsthand, walk its roads, breathe in the sea air of its coast, and see its Celtic designs, remains, and ruins up close. For quite a while I delved into different aspects of the traditions of the Irish: the laughter, the poetry, and the tragedy of the history and stories.
Loving Irish culture and lore, I decided to try to find everything possible on the Irish Claddagh and collate it here.
Do you wear a Claddagh ring, or have a special place in your heart for this symbol? What part of the Irish national character is represented by this iconic ornament? Let's take a look.
A Ring For Any Season
You don't have to be Irish, or celebrating St. Pat's Day to enjoy this symbol of love and loyalty on a gift.
Consider those on your shopping list for the Christmas holidays, or when giving a wedding gift.
Beautifully worked, these items are welcome and cherished and you can't ask for more when deciding on something thoughtful for a loved one.
The Celtic details on many of the pieces of jewelry are an ancient tradition reminiscent of the worked metals that have intertwined elements of design.
Graceful, and yet with a strength that coincides with the nature of the people from which it arose.
Birthday or Christmas Gift
It Is A Fine Story
The tale of how this tradition started:
A man from the Joyce clan of Galway, Richard Joyce, had sailed to the West Indies. While upon his venture he found himself captured and sold into slavery, soon working for a Moorish goldsmith in far-off Algiers. Fourteen long years he labored, all the while thinking of his one true love in Ireland.
For her he fashioned the heart, hand, and crown ring as tribute to her fine qualities. At last William III demanded the release of his subjects from slavery and back came the man Joyce, with his design and story.
Did he find his one true love waiting? Was Richard Joyce able to give that Irish girl the gift he had dreamed up? I don't know this part of the story.
It is known he finished out his days in his homeland as a prosperous goldsmith, and now that design is famous wherever there are Irish hearts to cherish it.
Worn in Ireland since the 17th century.
The design of this ring was associated with a famous fishing village outside Galway known as "The Claddagh" ; torn down and now gone.
The hands stand for friendship.
The heart stands for love.
The crown stands for loyalty.
The way the ring is turned means the wearer is romantically available or already taken. Pointing toward the heart, taken; pointing outward, there's a chance for romance.
Sayings To Engrave In The Ring:
Mo thaisce or Mo stór (My Treasure)
M'fíorghrá (My True Love)
cara m'anama (My Soul's Friend)
Cuisle mo chroí (Pulse of my heart)
Gra Dilseacht Cairdeas (Love, Loyalty, Friendship)
Grá Mo Chroí (Love of my Heart)
The fede or "clasped hands" ring is an ancient style of ring, and used in Roman times. It was believed to bring marital harmony, or at least hopes for such. The fede ring was a fairly common form of marriage ring from the 12th through the 17th century.
Below is an antique fede ring example.
Seen Round and About - Who's Who of Claddagh Ring Wearers
- Julia Roberts in 1995
- John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara wore a claddagh ring, as well as starring together in 'Quiet Man'
- Irish actor Gabriel Byrne
- Mia Farrow
- Walt Disney's statue at Disneyland wears a claddagh
- U2's singer Bono
- Jim Morrison had a gold claddagh
Claddagh Ring Facts: Some Trivia
Engagements and Weddings
Many couples choose this romantic symbol for their engagement and wedding rings.
Consider the elements for a Celtic or Irish themed wedding:
- Irish Bridal Dresses
- Traditional Colors of Green and White, or Blue and White
- Celtic design tiara
- Irish lace
- Shamrocks, plants and motif
- Claddagh symbol jewelry for bride, groom, and bridal attendants
Claddagh is pronounced 'klah-dah.'
A gem used in some jewelry is Alexandrite. It is a rare gemstone, green or bluish-green in daylight, and turns a soft shade of red, purplish-red or raspberry red in artificial light.
Irish Tradition Jewelry In Many Forms
Not just emblazoned on rings
Rings are probably the most popular form, and surely the most traditional way to wear the Claddagh, but jewelry like cufflinks or necklaces are also worn. These variations make the design most appropriate for wedding jewelry, whether for bride or groom, or attendants.
Because it is found on many items, this representation of Irish culture brings its reminder of those characteristics of the Irish soul to a home, and to hearts.
Is it any wonder that so many who may not lay claim to being "Sons and Daughters of Erin" still borrow the beautiful symbol for their own sentiments during courtship and marriage, and as a sign of friendship?
A Charm in gold or silver is just a matter of preference
The Claddagh says "Irish" wherever it is found.
Necklace Pendant Charm
Exceptionally Beautiful Gem Enhanced Claddagh Necklace - A Fine Bridesmaid Gift Or For The Girl You Love
Symbol of Love and Friendship
The Old Ways - In Symbol and Song
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day
Are You Irish?
"I had that stubborn streak, the Irish in me I guess."
- Gregory Peck
"It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's simply that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody."
- Brendan Behan
A Ring Of Irish Lore
- The Claddagh Story and it's unique meaning
The Claddagh symbol has become one of Ireland’s signature motifs. You can find the Claddagh symbol on different types of Celtic and High Crosses, traditional rings, pendants, and earrings, and in paintings, illustrations, and other artwork.