History of the Claddagh Ring
An emblem of the Galway Town of Claddagh, the Claddagh Ring is a traditional crafted Irish ring with hands that symbolize friendship, a crown that represents loyalty and a heart that symbolises love. The Claddagh ring belongs to a category of European finger rings known as fede rings. The word is derived from an Italian phrase mani in fede which means to join. These types of rings date back in medieval and Renaissance Europe when the clasped hand was a gesture of pledging vows and were primarily used as engagement and wedding rings. The ring is worn differently depending on the relationship status of the wearer.
When worn on the right hand with the heart and crown facing upwards, the ring translates that the wearer’s heart has not yet been worn and chances are he or she might e looking for love. When engaged, the ring is worn on the left hand with the crown and heart facing inwards towards fingertip. When in a matrimonial union, the Claddagh ring is worn on the left hand with the point of the heart towards the wrist.
The origin of Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh ring was first crafted and fashioned in the 17th century during the reign of Mary II. Folklore has it that a young Irish man, Richard Joyce, while on his way to the West Indies, was kidnapped by Mediterranean pirates and sold off as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith who helped him perfect his craftsmanship for the Claddagh ring. However, in 1689, king William III sent his ambassador to Algeria to negotiate for the release of any and all British citizen that had been enslaved which at then also included Richard Joyce. After fourteen years in captivity, Joyce was released and returned to Galway with the ring he had crafted and gave it to his sweetheart and later married. The initials R.J are inscribed in one of the earliest surviving Claddagh rings and goldsmith.
The Claddagh tradition
Though the ring has its roots amongst the Irish people since the 17th century, the ring is now worn all over the world as a universal symbol of loyalty, love and friendship. Similarly, the ring has also become a symbol of ties with the bygone generations. The Irish people through the ring celebrate all those who were taken into the bondage of slavery. The ring further reflects the troubled history of Ireland, remembrance to the ancient Irish kingdoms and British heritage. Notable wearers of the Claddagh ring include king Edward VII, Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandria