Love, friendship, and loyalty. The Claddagh has a rich history rooted in these Celtic traditions. The Claddagh traditionally is symbolized with two hands (friendship) holding a heart(love) that is surmounted by a crown(loyalty). Many people wear this symbol as a ring, or in some cases on a necklace or in the form of a tattoo, to proudly show their Irish heritage. However, there is so much more to the meaning of this ring than one may think.
There is a lot that that the Claddagh can say about someone by how they choose to wear it. Traditionally, if someone is wearing the ring on their right hand with the heart facing away from the body, they are indicating that they are not in any serious relationship and that their heart is open.If someone is wearing the ring on their right hand but with the heart facing toward the body, they are indicating that they are in a relationship and that someone has captured their heart.
A Claddagh worn on the left hand ring finger facing away from the body indicates that they are engaged. Once that person is married they will flip the ring into its final position on the left ring finger facing them. With so much meaning wrapped up in this symbol, you have to ask the question where does this come from?
There are a few stories about how this design came about. One of them tells the story of a young prince who fell in love with a common maid. His father didn’t believe his love was true so he crafted a ring that showed their story of love and friendship and her loyalty to each other and the kingdom. The prince showed this ring to his father and proved his love to be true. He then, with his father’s blessing, proposed to the maid with his ring. Another story that is more likely to to true, tells a tale of a man named Richard Joyce, who while away from his love, was captured and sold into slavery where he learned the craft of goldsmithing. When William III became king and freed the Moors from slavery, Joyce returned home and proposed to his love with the ring he crafted for her.
There is a lot of culture behind this interesting ring. When wearing it one should always remember to hold the values of love, friendship, and loyalty close to their hearts.