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What is a Claddagh ring?

Aggiornamento: 24 mag 2021

“The hands are there for friendship, the heart is there for love. For loyalty throughout the year, the crown is raised above.”

Today let us talk about…Ireland! When reading this name, do you think about the magical woods and the green fields, covered in shamrocks and sheep, which have always formed the scenic Irish treasure? It does not matter if you are in a narrow city street or in the traditional lovely inn of an unknown village, you can always hear the sweet melody of a thin whistle; and when you are on the top of the highest cliffs, look up the sky and hear the wind: can you recognize the thin whistle?

Ireland left me with such unforgettable memories that I tried for months to feel her as near as possible, and when the photos have become insufficient, I started to write about her. After having typed a bit, I thought about getting a shamrock tattoo on my ring finger to enshrine my eternal love for that country. Then I changed my idea…and I asked my parents for a Claddagh ring. Do not you know what is it? Do not worry, I will tell you.

Above: Claddagh ring pic taken by

The Claddagh symbol is very ancient; in fact, it appears during the 17th century in the homonymous village of the Connemara, the barren region of the county Galway, at the east of the country. It can be generally resumed with the expression “Love, loyalty and friendship”; two hands holding a heart, topped by a crown, compose it, and each one of these elements has its own meaning: the heart symbolizes love, the crown is the loyalty and the hands mean friendship. The most common jewel is the ring – in gold, silver, brass or steel – originally passing on from mother to daughter, but you can also find it as earrings or a charm for necklaces and bracelets.

It is born as an engagement ring, but now it can also be given by parents (just like in my case), sisters or brothers, grandparents or friends. Nevertheless, the promise does not change at all: love, loyalty and friendship. It can be used as a “sentimental-status-signaltoo, according to the way it is worn: if the heart’s tip is turned to the right hand fingers, the one is still looking for love; if turned to the wrist, there is already love in the air. If worn on the left hand, with the heart’s point turned to the wrist, they are married; if not, engaged.

There are plenty of stories turning around the Claddagh symbol with fascination and mystery, but I will tell you the one I prefer. The legend says that the angler betrothed Richard Joyce, one day was captured by some pirates and sold as a slave in Algeria. Then, he was bought by a native Goldsmith, who taught him his job. Still deeply in love with his Irish fiancée, Richard designed and made the first Claddagh ring, hoping to take it soon to his girlfriend. In 1689, when King William III set free all the prisoners of his reign, Richard was released and his master, came to care for him, offered him his beautiful daughter. Richard refused and came back to Ireland, where he found his engaged one still waiting for his return, and he could finally give her his present, the Claddagh, which became their wedding ring.

This is just one of the massive accounts of magnificent Irish tales, which tie the Irish population with its own past, territory and traditions.

Articolo a cura di: Benedetta Pitocco

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