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The Claddagh Ring - Hands of Faith

Updated on August 29, 2011
This is a traditional image of a Claddagh Ring
This is a traditional image of a Claddagh Ring | Source

This traditional Irish Ring is characterized by the heart with a crown being held in two hands. The ring is a token of love and can be worn as an engagement ring. It is also on occasion used as a wedding ring.

It gets its name from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh which is situated just outside the city of Galway. The village itself gained its name from the word Cladach which means a flat stony shore.

The earliest known record of the ring is from the 17th century. It was produced first in the reign of Queen Mary II. The design of the claddagh ring has elements of the late Roman period.

Each of the elements of the ring is a symbol. These are mentioned below.

The heart = Love

The hands = Friendship

The crown = Loyalty

How the person wore the Claddagh Ring was also prone to different interpretations of the wearer's relationships.

In case the ring was worn on the right hand, with the heart pointing towards the fingertip the wearer was not in a relationship. If the ring was worn on the right hand with the heart pointing the other way, the wearer was in a romantic relationship with someone.

On the left hand if the ring was worn on the ring finger then it was more than likely that the wearer was at least engaged if not already married.

I heard of the Claddagh Ring for the first time when I read Portrait In Death by JD Robb. In the story the mother of the central character Roake is said to be a woman called Siobhan who wore a Claddagh Ring on her ring finger of the left hand like a wedding ring.

At that time I had no clue what the ring looked like or symbolized and so I began my research. That is how this hub developed. I hope you find the ring beautiful and its history interesting.

The Claddagh Rings are similar to other European Fede Rings. These are named after the Italian phrase mani in fede. Mani in fede means hands joint in faith or loyalty. The Fede Rings have just the hands clasped in their design. This design would symbolize faith or trust.The Claddagh Ring is seen as the Irish version of the Fede Ring.

The Claddagh Rings were often passed down from Irish mothers to their first married daughter. As such they were family heirlooms that came down the maternal side. This custom is not very commonly known or followed these days.

Although the name Claddagh Ring was not used till the 1840s the ring design has been manufactured since the 1700s in Galway. The Joyce Family of Galway is traditionally considered the original designer of the ring.

Today the Claddagh Rings are designed with a heart shaped gemstone that could be your birthstone. These rings are worn by people of Irish descent who see it as an extension of their cultural identity. They denote pride in Irish heritage, while continuing to be symbols of love and marriage.


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    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      I'm sure it must be quite a draw to bring in customers to your shop Weldon Jewellers. Richard Joyce was credited as the man who designed the original Claddagh Ring for his sweetheart as a wedding ring.

      Thanks Stephanie for reading the story.

      Thank you Wasim

    • profile image

      wasim 6 years ago

      hi congrates you are doing fantastic job with the good intention of search and research of the things , which are encouraging us to must read to your hub.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      I've see Claddagh rings, but never knew the story behind them. Thanks for the interesting lore surrounding the wearing of a Claddagh ring.

    • Weldon Jewellers profile image

      Weldon Jewellers 6 years ago from Ireland

      Richard Joyce was a goldsmith working in Galway around 1700. We are lucky enough to currently have an original Claddagh ring by him on display in our shop, It is an incredibly rare thing, usually only found in a museum.