Ireland's rich history of folklore and tradition spans thousands of years. Today, Ireland is often recognized by its historic symbols the trinity, the harp, the shamrock, the tree of life, and the claddagh. This edition of the Irish Heritage Series dives into Ireland's traditions to tell you all about the claddagh symbol and its special connection to the Emerald Isle.
Meaning of the Claddagh Symbol
The claddagh represents friendship, loyalty, and love. Its three unique components express its meaning: The hands represent friendship (cairdeas), the crown represents loyalty (dilseacht), and the heart represents love (gra).
Several Irish traditions surround the claddagh symbol. First, gold and silver rings adorned with the claddagh are often given to celebrate an engagement or wedding. Second, claddagh rings are often passed down from mother to daughter. For this reason, a claddagh ring is a lovely idea for mothers looking to give an heirloom to their daughters. Finally, in more modern times, the claddagh ring has adopted a popular meaning of signifying one's relationship status. When worn with the heart facing inward, the wearer's heart is already taken. However, when worn with the heart pointing outward, their heart is open to love. Whichever tradition you follow, the symbol of the claddagh expresses a deep connection to Irish heritage and culture. With it, you carry the beautiful message of friendship, loyalty, and love.
Origins of the Claddagh Symbol
The claddagh symbol originated sometime in the 17th century in the small village of Claddagh, just outside of Galway City. Resting alongside the Atlantic Ocean, Claddagh was a historic fishing village named for the Irish An Cladach, meaning stony shore. A silversmith from this village crafted the first ever claddagh ring. The legend says that he gave it to his wife to thank her for her friendship, loyalty, and love. The popularity of the rings quickly spread across Ireland. By the 20th century they had reached Irish diasporas in America and Europe.
The Claddagh Symbol Today
The claddagh symbol today has become an emblem of Irish identity recognized all over the world. It appears on many types of jewelry, art, and Irish logos. In fact, Galway, the original home of the claddagh, recently opened a special exhibit about the legend and history of the symbol. Whether in Ireland or anywhere else in the world, wearing the claddagh expresses one's special connection to the Emerald Isle. Its diverse traditions make it perfect for a celebration of marriage, as a family heirloom, or a special gift to a friend.