The Irish Claddagh Ring

People have worn the Irish Claddagh ring for centuries. Odds are you or someone you know wears one. The beautiful ring from the Emerald Isle has quite the symbolism and origin.

claddagh ringThe story of the Irish Claddagh ring starts out in an unlikely place. It begins far from Ireland, in Algeria. It’s there the enslaved Irish silversmith Richard Joyce of Galway has been sold into slavery. Algerian Corsairs captured Joyce around 1675 during their passage to the West Indies. Little did they know the effect this would have…

During his time as a slave, Joyce labored away while assisting a Moorish goldsmith who taught him to work with silver. Fourteen years later, all of that would change. The king of England sent an ambassador to Algeria to release all British subjects.

Joyce was freed, and he took the skills he earned with him back to the fishing village of Claddagh in Galway. There was something else he brought to his home country – a ring he designed while in captivity. He gave the ring to his sweetheart upon his return. They married and he lived out the rest of his days as a professional silversmith.

To this day, that ring is what millions of people around the world know and love as the Irish Claddagh ring. Its key traits include a heart with a crown being held by a pair of hands. The heart symbolizes love, while the hands stand for loyalty and the crown signifies loyalty.

The symbolism doesn’t stop there. The way the Claddagh ring is worn has meaning, as well. It is intended to be worn on the ring finger. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, it indicates one is married. When worn on the left hand facing outward, it signifies being engaged.

The Claddagh ring isn’t only for those who are engaged or married, however. When worn on the right hand facing inward, the ring symbolizes one is in a relationship. If the ring is on the right hand facing outward, it indicates one is single.

Today, the Irish Claddagh is often passed down as an heirloom from mothers to daughters for generations. However that’s not the only way it’s given. Some people use it as an engagement ring while others purchase it as a souvenir from a trip to Ireland.

Thousands of people flock to Galway each year to get their hands on the iconic Irish Claddagh ring. It’s an Irish tradition that’s been around for centuries and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s to friendship, love and loyalty!


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