Considering the large population of people of Irish decent here in the United States, it’s no surprise that a popular Irish tradition, Claddagh rings, are seen so commonly in this great melting pot. Today, we’re breaking down this popular ring that is seen on so many today!
The first Claddagh rings ever made was in Thomas Dillion’s Claddagh Gold shop (now also a museum) on Quay Street in Galway. The shop dates back to 1750 and not only are they the original makers of the Claddagh ring, they are the oldest jewellers in all of Ireland! On top of holding the first ever claddagh rings made from back in the 1700’s, the museum at T. Dillion’s also holds the world’s smallest claddagh ring ever made.
The ring itself represents three different virtues: love (the heart), loyalty (the crown), and friendship (the hands.) The ring depicts a heart with two hands holding it, topped with a crown. Claddagh rings belong to a class of rings called “fede rings,” or “finger rings.” This class of rings represent faith and trust and were used as engagement/marriage rings during medieval times.
Although sometimes used as friendship rings, the rings are most commonly used for engagement or marriage to this day. The motto associated with the rings are “Let love and friendship reign.”
It’s common for families to pass rings down in their family, with some rings having been passed down for decades. Each ring has its own special meaning, to the family and person who calls it theirs. The Claddagh ring has become so much more than a ring to so many people across the world: it’s become a symbol of family, love and tradition.
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