“My people… before I
was changed, they exchanged this as a sign of devotion. It’s a claddagh ring. The hands represent friendship, the crown
represents loyalty. And the heart, well, you know…Wear it with the heart pointing toward you,
it means you belong to someone. Like this.”
~Angel in Surprise ~
The wearing of a Claddagh:
On the right hand with the crown turned inwards and the
heart turned outwards shows that your heart is not yet taken.
On the right hand with the crown turned outwards and the heart
shows that you have a commitment to someone.
On the left hand with the crown turned outwards and the
heart turned inwards shows you joined with your love forever.
The legend of the Claddagh
The hands are there for friendship,
The heart is there for love,
For loyalty throughout the year,
The crown is raised above.
Claddagh itself refers to a small fishing village
just near Galway city. The Claddagh ring supposedly originated in this area.
The ring has a design of a heart being encircled by a pair of delicate hands
with a crown above the heart (see picture above). In earlier times this design
was the symbol of the "Fishing Kings of Claddagh"
meaning 'in love and friendship let us reign'. In the 17th century the symbol
was first depicted on a ring which became the fashionable exchange of friends
or lovers. In marriage the heart was worn towards the wrist, otherwise towards
the fingertips. There are many modern versions of the Claddagh
The original Claddagh ring is generally
attributed to one Richard Joyce, a native of Galway, who, while being transported as a slave
to the plantations of the West Indies, was captured by Mediterranean pirates and sold to a Moorish
goldsmith who trained him in his craft. In 1689 he was released and returned to
Galway and set up his shop in the Claddagh. (The Claddagh is said
to be the oldest fishing village in Ireland). By tradition the ring is taken to
signify the wish that Love and Friendship should reign supreme. The hands
signify friendship, the crown loyalty, and the heart love. The ring has become
popular outside Connamera since the middle of the
last century ~ its spread being helped by the vast exodus from the West during
the great Famine in 1847-49. These rings were kept as heirlooms with great
pride and passed from mother to daughter. Today, the ring is worn extensively
across Ireland, either on the right hand with the heart turned outwards showing
that the wearer is "fancy free" or with the heart turned inwards to
denote that he or she is "spoken for". The pride of placement is on
the left hand, with the heart turned in, indicating that the wearer is happily
The best info I’ve seen on the Claddagh
and Galway is here.