Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The History of the Claddagh Ring

triking and unmistakable in design, two delicate hands cradling a crowned heart, worn by thousands through the centuries, from great kings, queens and princesses to modern day lovers and dear friends, this timeless symbol of friendship, loyalty and love finds its roots in the heart of Ireland.
Surprisingly, the origin of this cherished national symbol lay shrouded in mystery. But perhaps that is what draws so many to its simple beauty. The symbol of the Claddagh is said to be the symbol of the "Fisher Kings of Claddagh", a small fishing village overlooking the Galway Bay in Ireland, and it carried the meaning "in love and friendship let us reign". This original design was fashioned into a ring in the 17th Century. Many stories and myths attempt to explain this ring's beginnings, but one romantic legend seems to ring louder and truer than the rest.
The Legend
It is the old story of Richard Joyce, a young man from the Galway village of Claddagh, Ireland. Just days before his wedding, Richard, on a trip to the West Indies, was kidnapped by Algerian pirates and sold, a slave, to a Moorish goldsmith. The goldsmith soon took a liking to Richard, clever and quick as he was, and trained him as an apprentice to be a master craftsman. Year later in 1689, when King William III demanded the release of all British subjects from Algiers, Richard turned down the offer of marriage to the old goldsmith's daughter and half of the old man's fortune for the sweet winds of home and his true love in Galway. Though it had been 14 years since his disappearance, he found his true love waiting faithfully for his return. Overcome with joy, he presented her with a ring that he had designed and forged while an apprentice, the now famous Royal Claddagh, and soon the two were married. It is said that Richard settled in Galway with his bride and there became a successful goldsmith, his most famous work, the Claddagh.
Though no one can say for sure where the Claddagh ring originated or who first designed it, the earliest Claddaghs to be traced bear the mark "RI", Richard Joyce, the master goldsmith.
An Irish Tradition
The Claddagh ring [] is a variant of older rings called "Fede", or faith rings which date to Roman times and were popular in the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Since the 17th Century, it was traditionally worn as a Celtic wedding or engagement ring, handed down from mother to daughter for generations. For many Irish who left Ireland during Great Famine of the 19th Century, the Claddagh was the only reminder left of their homeland.
Rich in Meaning and Significance
But you don't have to be Irish to appreciate the meaning and beauty of the Claddagh ring. This traditional Irish wedding ring is now worn all over the world. It has become a fashionable exchange of dear friends and lovers, men and women alike. The meaning of the ring is what gives it significance. The hands, crown and heart symbolize the trinity of Love, Loyalty and Friendship, or in Gaelic, "Gra Dilseacht agus Cairdeas" (pronounced 'Graw Deel-shocked, ogis Korr-diss'). Put another way: "Let love and friendship reign forever". It is this rich and beautiful meaning that makes the Claddagh perfect for many occasions, whether it be a gift to a cherished friend of loved one, a Mother's ring, a Promise ring or worn traditionally as an engagement or wedding ring.
Wearing a Claddagh
The Claddagh ring is one of the most elegant and meaningful rings ever created and is beautiful no matter how it is worn. However, if the tradition of the Claddagh is followed, then the way in which the Claddagh is worn declares the wearers relationship status in their quest for love.
If worn on the right hand, it is a sign of friendship: with the heart pointed out toward the fingertip, the wearer is free for the courting, their heart open and available; with the heart pointed in toward the wrist, the wearer is spoken for or being courted. But the left hand is the prized position for the Claddagh; worn with the heart facing in toward the wrist, the wearer has found their true love and is engaged or happily married, saying, "With these hands I give you my heart and I crown it with my love."
by Stephen Cummins
Shop now for quality Claddagh Rings Or find a wide variety of other sterling silver jewelry at []
Article Source:

No comments: