The Celtic Claddagh Wedding/Engagement Ring

The Claddagh, a traditional ring from Ireland comes with a varied history. Perhaps the most popular legend about the origin of the Claddagh ring comes from Galway around the 1700’s. It is said that Richard Joyce, a silversmith, was captured on his way to the West Indies where he was sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith. Joyce lived with the goldsmith, learning his trade for 14 years, dreaming of a day when he could return home and marry his sweetheart. After becoming king, William III demanded that the Moors release all British prisoners. He was finally released but the goldsmith wanted Joyce to stay and work for him so he offered his daughter and half of his wealth if only Joyce would stay. Joyce turned down the goldsmith and returned to Galway where his sweetheart had been waiting for him. He proposed to her and gave her a ring he had made during his time in captivity to show his love and loyalty.

The other popular legend about the first Claddagh comes from Margaret Joyce, who inherited a large amount of money when her first husband, a wealthy Spanish merchant, died. She got remarried to the Mayor of Galway in 1596 and began using her first husbands immense wealth to construct much needed bridges in Connacht. It is said that while sitting in the fields one day an eagle flew over her and dropped a Claddagh ring into her lap as God’s reward to her for her service to the people and her selflessness.

Perhaps the most romantic of the legends comes from a story that tells of a Prince who had fallen in love with a commoner. In order to gain the girl’s father’s blessing he designed a ring for her with hands, a crown and a heart to symbolize the friendship, loyalty and love he felt towards the young girl. The Prince proposed with the ring and the father gave him his blessing.


The Symbols on the Claddagh ring hold specific significance:

The Hands: symbolize friendship in the relationship, thus the idea of marrying your best friend.

The Heart: symbolizes the love you hold for that person or the love you are searching for.

The Crown: symbolizes the loyalty in the relationship or the loyalty that you are searching for in a relationship.


How you wear a Claddagh also holds significant meaning.

When worn on the left hand with the heart pointing towards your wrist signifies that you areĀ  engaged or married.When worn on the right hand with the heart facing towards the ends of your fingers it means that you are searching for love. But if you wear it on your right hand with the heart pointing towards your wrist it signifies that you aren’t searching for a relationship at that point in your life.

Regardless of your faith or heritage the Claddagh ring is a beautiful and elegant piece of jewelry and often passed down through generations from mother to daughter.


References & Places to find your own Claddagh Rings:

Engagement Rings

Unique Celtic Rings



Claddagh Ring History & Meaning

Claddagh Ring Meaning

By: Clare Rhine

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