The Claddagh: the Legend, History, and Myth

The hands of friendship hold the heart of love crowned by loyalty and faithfulness. If our relationships were as concrete and steadfast as that, we would feel far more secure in our lives than we currently do. Sadly, the internet, the high speed of over connection, the high resolution of the systemic set up of “follow”, “like” and “share” has manipulated a very different design and created a life around insecurity. But the Claddagh, the original and most basic design which unified real love, real friendship, real trust means something much deeper. 

The legend is this: in the town of Claddagh (a real place, not far away from Galway), a young couple, a very long time ago, was promised to each other- they were very much in love but very poor. The young man was drafted and called away to war before they could wed, so as a sign of his affection for his beloved, he forged the symbol into clay and gave it to her. She took the heart, held the heart towards her own heart to say that their two hearts were bound together- that her heart was spoken for. 

  The history of the Claddagh Ring goes back to the 17th century to the time of Richard Joyce, a fisherman from Claddagh. He was captured by Spanish soldiers from his boat, away from his life and his love- Margaret. They sold him into slavery in the North African Coast where he eventually was sold to a goldsmith who began to teach him the trade. Each day, Richard stole a small piece of gold and he began to make a ring. With hope in his heart that he’d return to his Margaret, it’s unclear as to whether or not he was freed or escaped, but what is known is that he did return to his loving Margaret who had waited patiently for him. He presented her with the ring he had made for her. 

  The significance behind those who wear it as a symbol of matrimony is that the vein that starts in one’s fourth finger, left hand is the vein that goes straight into one’s heart. 

  My Step-Father wore the Claddagh that his Mother gave him. My first Claddagh was given to me by my Uncle who designs our exclusive pieces. He had it made especially for me in gold. The people who you trust and love the most, when you give a person a Claddagh you are saying so much more than “I love you”. It is a powerful statement. It says that without envy, without conditions- this person has your support and your strength with them wherever they go in life. 
Choose wisely.