A traditional symbol of love, friendship, and loyalty from Ireland is the Claddagh. The heart (love) is clasped by hands (friendship) and topped with a crown (loyalty).
The name comes from the fishing village of Claddagh in Ireland near Galway where the symbol is believed to have originated in the seventeenth century. A jeweler named Richard Joyes is credited with making the first Claddagh. The legend says that Joyes was taken as a slave by pirates and was apprenticed to his master who was a goldsmith. When he was freed, he returned home to Claddagh and opened his own jewelry store.
The Claddagh is sometimes worn as a cultural symbol but is more often used as a ring of friendship, engagement, or marriage. In Irish families, the ring is often passed from mother to daughter.
Celebrities have been known to sport the symbol which increased awareness of its meaning. If you have a Claddagh, you join the likes of Walt Disney, John Wayne, President Kennedy, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, and Bono, to name a few.
The way you wear it and the hand you wear it on reveals the relationship status of the wearer. If you are single, you should wear it on your right hand with the heart pointing away from you. If your heart is taken, you should wear it on your right hand with the heart pointing toward you. If you are engaged, you should wear it on your left hand with the heart pointing away from you. If you are married, you should wear it on your left hand with the heart toward you. It might be easier to update your relationship status on Facebook than to remember how to wear your Claddagh.
I came across an Irish legend about the original Claddagh ring. A wealthy widow used her own money to build the bridges of Connaught. As a reward for her generosity, an eagle flew over and dropped the ring in her path.
I want try an experiment to see how many comments I can get. I have a theory about the widow and the eagle, so I will start a story and would like commenters to add a line and see where it goes.
Among those of you who live in the continental U.S., leave the next part of the story and your email address. It only needs to be a sentence or two and you can read previous comments and add to those.
I will draw a name on St. Patrick’s Day at noon (CST) and contact you about sending your prize. I will post the winner’s name that day, as well as the story that you all wrote. (Please keep it rated PG as this is a family friendly blog.) A beautiful sterling silver Claddagh pendant could be yours.
An eagle was flying high in the blue sky over Galway when he saw something shiny in the window of the jewelry store. He swooped down and snatched it. While soaring once again over the province of Connaught, he saw a widow so beautiful it made his beak fall open and he dropped the ring. The widow was knocked unconscious when the gold hit her in the head…
I’m looking forward to what we will create together.