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The Claddagh ring story

The Claddagh

The Claddagh ring is known and worn throughout the world today. It seems to have originated in the fishing village of Claddagh which was immediately west of Galway city. The Claddagh is no longer a village but a suburb between the city centre and Salthill.

The Claddagh ring

The Claddagh ring is derived from Fede or Faith rings. These rings feature clasped hands. The Claddagh ring features a pair of hands holding a heart with a crown on top. The hands are meant to symbolise friendship, the heart; love and the crown; loyalty.

The way the ring is worn is supposed to convey the wearers romantic state. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the design facing away from the body, it means the wearer is not in a relationship. When worn on the right hand with the design facing the body, the wearer is probably in a relationship. When worn on the left hand, the design facing away from the body generally indicates the wearer is engaged. A married person will usually were the ring on their left hand with the design facing the body.

Origin

The origin of the Claddagh ring is unclear. There are several legends telling of how the ring came about.

The Prince

One tells of a Prince who fell in love with a common girl. Fearing that the Prince was only using his daughter, her father need to be convinced otherwise. the Prince designed the ring in order to allay the fears the man had. He proposed to the girl with the ring. When the man heard the symbolism of the ring explained, he consented to the marriage.

Margaret Joyce

A second tale tells of Margaret Joyce, a member of the Joyce clan who were one of the Tribes of Galway. She is said to have married Domingo deRona a Spanish merchant who traded with the people of Galway. She went with him to Spain, but when he died, she inherited a large sum of money. She returned to Galway, and in 1596 she married Oliver Og ffrench, who was the then mayor of Galway. With her money she is said to have funded the construction of some bridges throughout Connacht. As a reward for her benevolence, an Eagle dropped a Claddagh ring into her lap one day.

Richard Joyce

Probably the most popular legend features another Joyce, Richard. He was from Galway and he went to work in the West Indies, leaving behind his sweetheart, hoping to return later to marry her. The ship he was sailing on was captured and he was sold into slavery in Algiers, to a Moorish goldsmith. Richard learnt that craft. While in captivity he forged a ring for his intended hoping to someday return to Galway with it. When William III became King of England he ordered the Moors to release all British prisoners. Joyce was released, however his captor have a lot of regard for him and offered him his daughter in marriage along with half his wealth if he stayed. He declined and returned to Galway where his love had waited fourteen years for his return. He presented her with the original Claddagh ring. and they were married.

Associated Photographs
Claddagh
Claddagh Ring


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