Understanding Celtic Symbols–Claddagh

October 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

Many of us wear this symbol in the form of a ring, necklace, earrings or even a tattoo.  But how many of us really know the origin and meaning of the Claddagh.  Well here it is….

In the early 16th century, an Irish man named Richard Joyce was fishing off the coast of Galway, Ireland.  One week before he was to be married his currach (fishing boat) capsized.  Captured by pirates and sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith, he crafted a special ring for his one true love fashioned of three symbols:  hands signifying friendship, a heart signifying love, topped with a crown for loyalty.  When released from slavery, Richard returned to Ireland and found his true love waiting for him.  They married and settled in the village of Claddagh.  Ever since, the Claddagh ring has been worn as a sign of love (the heart), loyalty (the crown) and friendship (the hands).  The heart pointed toward you means your heart is taken; the heart pointed away from you means your heart is free.  Worn on the left ring finger, heart pointed toward you–represents a wedding band.  Although traditionally used as a wedding band, the Claddagh ring has come to be worn as a friendship ring.

The true Irish Claddagh bears a mark of authenticity, which cannot be imitated.  A genuine Irish Claddagh ring is one that is handcrafted in Ireland, assayed in Dublin Castle, and hallmarked by the Irish Assay master.


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