Claddagh ring: a ring to remember
If you wish to take a souvenir from a trip to Ireland, you better not think of one of those classic wool sweaters, or one of those green gnomes living in the woods (the leprechaun).
The best souvenir of Ireland is a Claddgh Ring: the traditional ring made by Irish goldsmiths in memory of a tradition and that today symbolizes the official engagement ring of Ireland.
The Claddagh Ring consists of two hands on which rests a heart with a crown: this ring was made for the first time by the craftsmen of the village of Claddagh, near the Galway Bay. Its symbology is quite clear: the hands represent friendship, the heart love and the crown loyalty.
During the famine that struck Ireland hard during the 19th century, obliging forced many Irish people to expatriate in search of better living and working conditions, this ring represented the only link with the family and with their homeland.
That’s why the Irish, especially the women who emigrated to the United States, trusted this ring with all the strength of Irish family traditions, so that they could pass them on to their daughters and then do the same.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
The legends about the origins of this ring are many, but the most accepted is the one that tells the sad story of a king in love with a poor peasant. she didn’t reciprocate her feelings, so he committed suicide, asking that two hands should be engraved on his tombstone, holding the same heart with a crown, so that everybody would remember his story.
According to another story the widow of an important dealer used her inheritance to help the community of Galway. In return she was gifted the Claddagh ring from an Eagle, that let it fall on her lap.
There is also the story of an Irish man kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave to an Arab goldsmith, who tought him his work. Once back home, through the intercession of the king,made a ring that kept all the passages of his adventure, including the king and his wife who had waited for him all that time.
Actually the origins of the ring have to be looked for in the time of the Celts. But that’s another story.
Discover all the Celts symbols in our Celtic Collection