The West of Ireland truly has some amazing things to offer. No, we aren’t talking about The Banshees of Inisherin or the new Air Lingus route (though we have talked about them aplenty before). We are focusing on the Claddagh ring which is from the West of Ireland, and now synonymous throughout the world as a universal symbol of friendship and love.
And since we are inching towards Valentine’s Day, the focus is on this ring and the many ways to wear it. The Claddagh ring has a very distinct feature, you won’t miss it: a crowned heart held by two hands.
One of the most unique features about the ring is that it can be worn by anyone. Whether you are single, engaged, or married. However, one gorgeous feature of this beautiful ring is that the way it is worn is different depending on the status of the wearer.
Single: Wear the ring on the right hand with the heart facing outward from your body.
In a Relationship: Wear the ring on the right hand with the heart facing inwards.
Engagement: Wear the ring on the lift hand on the third finger with the heart pointing outwards.
Wedding ring: Wear the ring on the lift hand on the third finger with the heart pointing inwards.
These rings can be made or purchased in a variety of metals, and budgets and you can also have your birthstone embedded in the ring.
There’s also so much folklore and legends around this ring and its origins. The Legend of the Claddagh Ring often refers to the story of the mystical and beautiful Claddagh ring, and it’s said that it was first told over 300 years ago. This story takes place in the ancient fishing village of the Claddagh, in Galway on the west coast of Ireland.
What was the story?
It’s a romantic one and it focuses on a man called Richard Joyce. As the story goes, before Joyce was to be married, he was captured at sea by pirates. And unfortunately sold as a slave and landed up in Algeria.
His master was a rich goldsmith, and of Moorish origin. He sensed Joyce’s potential and began to give him training in his craft. Soon, Joyce became a master craftsman but he often thought of the woman he had left behind. He loved her deeply, even after so many years.
Thinking of her, and of their love, he fashioned a ring, which was the first Claddagh ring. The heart symbolised his love, the pair of hands represented friendship and the crown stood for loyalty and fidelity.
It so happened (again, remember this is a story!) that in 1689, Joyce found himself a free man. His master offered to have him married to his daughter and also promised him an inheritance. (Joyce could inherit half of his master’s wealth if he choose to stay with them).
But Joyce refused and returned to Galway. He found to his surprise that his sweetheart had patiently waited for his return, and he presented the Claddagh Ring to her and they were married.
Quite a tale, isn’t it?
It makes you wish for a Claddagh ring of your own. You have plenty of time till Valentine’s Day arrives, and now plenty of inspiration too – so do check out these rings and let us know if you end up with one!