History is passed down through centuries, altered and exaggerated until it becomes difficult to distinguish facts from the myths. One such instance of history surrounded by myths is the origin of the Claddagh Ring—a traditional Irish ring known to symbolise love, loyalty, and friendship.
The Claddagh ring’s design originated in the Irish fishing village known as Claddagh in Galway, from which the ring takes its name. The ring being produced first in the 17th century.
Origins of the Claddagh Ring
Since 1700, Galway has produced the Claddagh ring; however, the name was not used until the late 1800s.
The Legend of the Joyce Family
Bartholomew Fallon, a 17th-century Irish goldsmith, made Claddagh rings until the 1700s. His rings have survived through time and bear his signature. However, one of the most known and believed legends surrounding the Claddagh ring concerns Richard Joyce, a silversmith in Galway.
It’s said that Joyce was captured by Algerians and then sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith who needed an apprentice. After noticing how talented Joyce was in the art of jewelry making, the goldsmith started teaching Joyce the craft.
After fourteen years of enslavement, Joyce was released as King William III demanded the release of all British subjects who were enslaved in Algeria. So, Joyce returned to Galway, but he brought with him the ring he had crafted in captivity—now known as the Claddagh ring.
He gave this ring to his lover, married her, and became a successful goldsmith, with his initials surviving the earliest Claddagh rings.
The Claddagh ring features a distinctive design with two hands clasping a heart under a crown. The heart symbolises eternal love, hands symbolise long-lasting friendship, and the crown depicts loyalty.
Although Claddagh rings can be worn as friendship rings, they’re mostly intended to use as engagement and wedding rings. A motto that is associated with the ring says, “Let love and friendship reign.”
Buy an Irish Claddagh Ring for Your Significant Other
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