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The Story of the Irish Claddagh Ring

Posted by Staff Writer on

What is the Irish Claddagh Ring?

The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) 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 Claddagh is one of Ireland’s most recognized and precious images. Two hands embracing a heart adorned with a crown symbolize the purity of a cherished relationship – friendship (cairdeas), love (grá) and loyalty (dílseacht). 

Who better to tell us the real story of the Irish Claddagh ring than  Mr. Leonard of the National Claddagh school. In this video he tells a very special Galway story that comes right back to our very own Claddagh: an exciting tale of pirates, slavery, friendship, love, loyalty... and the world's very first Claddagh Ring.


It is thought that the Claddagh ring may have originated from the clasped hand design of the ancient Greek and Roman fede rings named for the Italian “mani in fede” or “hands clasped in loyalty" to express solidarity. 

Afte the fall of the Roman Empire f  they grew out of fashion until the Middle Ages when they were known as faith rings.  During the  Renaissance Claddagh rings became a symbol of marriage. Today the Claddagh ring represents Irish identity when used as a wedding ring.

How did the Claddagh ring originate?

There are many tales on how the Claddagh originated , the most well-known involving pirates. In a small fishing village called Claddagh, now a part of Galway, Ireland, the local legend says the ring was first created as a love token by  Richard Joyce, a local who was captured by Algerian pirates to be a slave in Morocco. 

According to the story, Joyce worked for a Moorish goldsmith and became an accomplished goldsmith himself. In 1689 he was released and reunited with his love in Claddagh. 

He presented her with a ring he had made while in captivity, which she wore as her wedding ring. 

 (Get your ring here )

The symbols on her ring are the same as those today: two hands (friendship) clasping a heart (love), capped with a crown (loyalty).

For centuries couples have exchanged the famous Claddagh ring as an engagement or wedding ring.  The three beautiful symbols make the perfect rings to offer your loved one. The symbols for love, loyalty & friendship are represented in the heart, the crown, and the hands.

The Claddagh is a perfect reminder of the breadth of our admiration of Ireland - the history of its village, the legend of its goldsmith, the allure of the name itself. But it is the emotional perfection of the Claddagh symbol that has earned our endearment and inspired us to immortalize it in jewelry, art and so much more.


All you need is love…loyalty and friendship.   

And of course, your own ring..


1 comment

  • Do you have big bold claddaugh rins formen. Im looking for a size 14. Id like the ring to be kind of thick

    William Wells jr on

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