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Origin of the Claddagh & How To Wear an Irish Claddagh Ring

Contemporary Irish Claddagh Ring

Classic & Contemporary Handmade Irish Claddagh Rings


Do you wear an Irish Claddagh Ring or are you considering purchasing for yourself or as a gift?

Here we have gathered all you need to know about the Irish Claddagh Ring along with the 4 different ways to wear this symbolic design!

Story of The Irish Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh is a traditional Irish ring exchanged as a token of love. Often worn as an engagement or wedding ring due to the three beautiful symbols of love, loyalty & friendship in the heart, the crown and hands.  The Claddagh Ring dates from the 17th century and originated in the little village of Claddagh in County Galway, Ireland. There are a number of stories which claim the origin of the Claddagh ring but the most plausible of these is that of the Joyce family.

It is said that Richard Joyce was a silversmith working in the 1700’s and his initials (his maker’s mark) are on the earliest known surviving Claddagh ring. The story goes that Joyce had been captured by Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.

The goldsmith needed an apprentice and noticing Joyce’s talent he taught him the trade. In 1689, he was released from slavery when William III sent an ambassador to Algeria demanding the release of all British subjects. Upon hearing this, Joyce’s captor offered him half of his wealth and his only daughter in marriage if he would remain in Algeria. Joyce declined the offer, eager to return to his native Galway. When he returned to Galway, he established his own jewelry business and set about creating his most famous design the Claddagh ring.

The other popular story of the history of the Claddagh is also 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, she returned to Galway and used her fortune to build bridges in Galway and Sligo. She also went on to marry the Mayor of Galway, Oliver Og French, in 1596. It is said the first Irish Claddagh ring was dropped into her lap by an eagle in reward for all her good work and charity.

Browse our collection of Irish Wedding Rings and Irish Silver Rings all handcrafted in Ireland

Irish Claddagh ring



What is the correct way to wear an Irish Claddagh Ring?

Whichever story you believe, there is no doubt that the Claddagh is the ultimate symbol of love. Long before Facebook, people wore the famous Claddagh design to proclaim their relationship status. Much like Facebook, relationship status can be updated quickly and as easily! There are a number of ways your ring can be worn to convey your relationship status.

Here’s a short guide on how to wear Claddagh ring so you can avoid any awkward moments or give off mixed signals to those in the know!


4 Ways to Wear your Claddagh 

  1. Right hand with the point of the heart facing towards the hand: The heart is turned in towards the wearer meaning their heart is taken and they are in a relationship.
  2. Right hand with the point of the heart away from the hand: The heart is turned out away from the wearer meaning their heart is open to love and they are not in a relationship.
  3. Left hand with the point of the heart pointing away from hand: the wearer is engaged or in a lifelong partnership.
  4. Left hand with the point of the heart pointing to the hand: the wearer is married!


What does the Irish Claddagh Ring mean to you?

Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you

4 Responses to Origin of the Claddagh & How To Wear an Irish Claddagh Ring

  1. Tracey October 14, 2017 at 11:35 pm #

    What does it mean if a man wears his wedding ring but on his right hand has a claddagh ring worn the way which shows he is single- ie crown facing towards his chest, pointed part of heart facing out?
    Thank you.

    • Paula Curtin October 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Tracey,
      Thanks for your message!
      The heart turned out and away from the wearer is meant to symbolize open to love and the wearer is not in a relationship.
      However, many people are not aware of this tradition so, of course, we always take it with a grain of salt 🙂
      In relation to the finger a wedding ring is worn, again there are no firm rules on this and varies between countries and culture.
      Hope this helps!
      Paula @ Claddagh Design

  2. Aoife October 28, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

    Hi Tracey,

    If you’re in the United States, and have encountered a man wearing both a wedding ring on the left hand and the Claddagh facing out on the right, assuming he knows the tradition, then the meaning can best be answered by asking him. BUT, also take his answer with a grain of salt, be sure to guard your heart.

  3. Josh May 18, 2018 at 8:35 am #

    Open relationship, is allowed to play the field.

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