Brief History of The Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh Ring is believed to have originated in the fishing village situated near the "shore" or "Claddagh" of Galway Bay.
The ring shows two hands holding a heart which wears a crown. This motif is explained in the phrase: "Let Love and Friendship reign", and ideal poesy for a wedding ring used by a small community for over four hundred years.
This distinctive design is associated with one of the Tribes of Galway, the Joyce family.
Richard Joyce en route to the West Indies, was captured by Algerian corsairs and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him.
Released from slavery in 1689, at the demand of William III of England, Joyce, in spite of substantial inducement to stay, returned to Galway and set up as a goldsmith. His work marked with an anchor signifying Hope and initials R.I. still exists.
The Claddagh Ring motif is attributed to him.
The Claddagh Ring became popular outside the Claddagh about the middle of the last century, especially as it was the only ring made in Ireland worn by Queen Victoria and later by Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII.
On the occasion of the visit of Our Lady's Choral Society top Monaco in 1962, a brooch and cuff-links in 18 carat gold, embodying the Claddagh motif, and set with Connemara marble, were presented to Their Serene Highnesses, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
The ring grows daily in popularity because of its unique design, peculiar history, sentimental appeal and close association with ancient Claddagh of Galway on the River Corrib.
The tradition of how to wear this ring is very distinctive. If the owner of the ring wears it with the crown pointing towards the finger nail, he or she is said to be in love or married. To wear the ring with heart pointing to the finger nail, he or she is said to be unattached to anyone.