The Claddagh Ring
an Irish wedding ring
The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring, which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love and the crown represents loyalty.
The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway now part of Galway City.
The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century. Towards the end of the 20th century there was an explosion of interest in the Claddagh Ring, both as jewelry and as an icon of Irishness that now adorns many other objects from pub signs to grave stones. In more recent years it has been embellished with interlace designs and combined with other Celtic and Irish symbols, but this is a very recent phenomenon that corresponds with the worldwide expansion in popularity of the Claddagh ring as an emblem of Irish identity.
Claddagh rings are often used as friendship rings but are most commonly used as engagement or wedding rings. Mothers also give these rings to daughters when they come of age.
How to wear the ring:
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single.
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship.
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.
More curious details of the Claddagh ring
- Claddagh rings have been used often as plot devices in films and television, such as in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Famous wearers of the Claddagh ring are John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, who obtained the rings on a trip to Galway in 1963.
- In the months following the attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, it was estimated that over 200 Claddagh rings were found in the ruins of the Twin Towers.