Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring given as a token of friendship, love, or marriage. The design and customs associated with it originated from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the city of Galway. The ring was first produced in the 17th century, though elements of the design date to the Roman period end.
Claddagh ring Origins
Claddagh ring belongs to a group of European finger rings called “fede ring”. The name “fede” comes from the Italian phrase mani in fede (“hands in faith” “hands loyalty” or). These rings date from Roman times, when the grasping hand movements are symbolic oath promising, and they are used as love and marriage rings in medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Fede rings are cast in the form of two hands clasped, symbolizing faith, trust or “plighted loyalty”. Claddagh ring is a variation on the fede ring, while the hands, heart and crown motif used in England in the early 18th century.
Galway has produced Claddagh ring continuously since at least 1700, but the name “Claddagh ring” was not used before in the 1840s.
For example, author: Bartholomew Fallon is a 17th century Irish goldsmith, based in Galway, Claddagh ring are made to 1700 approximately. His name first appears in the will of one Dominick Martin, also a jewelry store, on January 26, 1676, in which Martin Fallon wants some tools. Fallon continued to work as a goldsmith til 1700. His is one of the oldest examples of the Claddagh Rings, in many cases bearing his signature.
There are many legends about the origin of the ring, especially about Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway, circa 1700, which is said to have found the Claddagh design as we know it. His initials are on one of the Claddagh ring early life (same as Fallon) with the sign maker, but there are three other people were also made around the time bearing the mark goldsmith Thomas Meade. Some of the elements found in ‘Joyce legend’ appear in a footnote on the family tradition in the history of James Joyce Hardiman of Galway (1820). In fact, the story of Claddagh rings is loaded with myths to find out what the truth of the discovery of the deepest design or history.
More mystical legends also associated with the Joyce family. Margaret Joyce married to a Spaniard Domingo de Ronam rich, whose wealth left him when he died. He used his inheritance to build bridges in the province of Connacht, and in 1596 she married Oliver Og Ffrench, Mayor of Galway. He was rewarded for his charity work with the eagle that dropped Claddagh Ring on her lap.
The antique Victorian Sir William Jones describes the Claddagh, and gives Book Chambers’ Days as a source, in the Finger-Ring Lore book.
Jones said about Claddagh ring :
There is a 1906 account by William Dillon, Dillon, from Galway in jewelry business since c. 1750, who said that “Claddagh” ring worn on the Aran Islands, Connemara, and so on.
Knowledge of the ring and customs spread across the British Isles during the Victorian period, and this is when his name became established. Galway jewelry began marketing outside the local area in the 19th century, more “widespread recognition” came in the 20th century.
American mineralogist and ring expert George Frederick Kunz did not mention the Claddagh rings in his book, but he showed a photo of one, captioned with the correct name, just Kunz discusses the importance of gold wedding bands in Ireland is absolutely no reference to the Claddagh. It is unclear exactly how and when the ring was brought to the United States. Interestingly, following the example Kunz McCarthy, though he cites / credits Jones.
Today, the Claddaghs rings worn by many, although slightly more often by those of Irish heritage. It is generally used as a symbol of cultural and / or as an engagement / wedding ring. A plot device in film and television has been frequently used a Claddagh rings.