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    The story of the Irish Claddagh ring

    The Claddagh symbol

    A gift of love, crafted in Ireland, the Claddagh echoes a tale of devotion retold over the centuries. Once upon a time, so the story goes, a young Irish sailor was captured and sold into slavery. Far from his native land, he held the memory of his sweetheart deep in his heart. He never forgot her. Years later, on his safe return to Galway his gift to her was a Claddagh ring. Forged with the skills he had learnt during his imprisonment, it was a token of his enduring love. "With these hands I give you my heart, and I crown it with my love".

    The Claddagh is a unique area right outside the old city walls of Galway, just across the river from Spanish Arch. It was originally a fishing village, the fisher-folk who resided there forbidden to use 'spade or hoe', and who were ruled by an elected 'King of the Claddagh'. The Claddagh community would have the main supplier of seafood to Galway city right up until the 19th century. It is also the home of the legend of the iconic Irish Claddagh ring ('Fáinne Chladaigh' in Irish), used in Ireland as a friendship and wedding ring. The Claddagh symbol is a traditional design consisting of two clasped hands holding a crowned heart, and symbolises love (heart), friendship (hands) and loyalty (crown).

    Its origin is associated with one of the tribes of Galway, the Joyce family. Local fisherman Richard Joyce was due to marry his love, a local girl, but was captured by Algerian pirates and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith, where he learned the trade. Many years later he was released from slavery, and despite being induced to stay, he returned to Galway and his sweetheart who had waited for him. The legend goes that he presented her with the first Claddagh ring and they were married. 

    Did you know that how you wear your Claddagh tells others a story about you? Traditionally, when courting, if the ring was worn on the right hand with the heart facing outwards, it showed your heart was not yet taken. Once betrothed, the heart would now be turned inwards to show your heart was taken. Once married, the ring was worn on the left hand with the heart still turned inwards, to show love and loyalty.

    What does your Claddagh ring say about you?

    BROWSE OUR CLADDAGH COLLECTION

    We have been handcrafting iconic and traditional Claddagh rings since 1941. Each Solvar Claddagh ring is crafted to the highest standard by one of our skilled goldsmiths, and is a symbol of love, friendship and loyalty.

    Browse our full Claddagh Collection

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