The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which is exchanged as a token of love and is often worn as a wedding ring.
The Claddagh ring is made up of two hands joined together with a single heart, on top of which rest a crown. The hands joined together represent friendship, the heart in the centre is for love, while the crown represents loyalty.
The ring dates from the 17th century and originated in the village of Claddagh in Galway, Ireland. There are a number of stories which claim the origin of the Claddagh ring. The most popular one is that the ring is linked to the Joyce name. Margaret Joyce, a Galway native, inherited her wealth from her husband Domingo de Rona. He was a wealthy Spanish merchant who traded with the city of Galway. When he died, Margaret returned to Galway and used her fortune to build bridges and help the people of her native place. She also went on to marry the Mayor of Galway, Oliver Og French, in 1596. It is said the first Claddagh ring was dropped into her lap by an eagle in reward for all her good work, her generosity and her charity.
The ring became popular among non-Irish communities throughout the world after it was worn by Queen Victoria and later by Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. In 1962, a brooch and cuff-links with the Claddagh motif were presented to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. Somewhere along the way the custom of how to wear the ring was established; with the heart pointing inwards if your heart is taken and outwards if your heart is looking for love.
This iconic Irish symbol hand-carved in pure copper is now available as a wall plaque.
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