Believe it or not, the humble Irish claddagh ring has accumulated some well known admirers over the years. With its Irish roots, romantic symbolism and unique design, it’s no wonder celebrities take a liking to the ring, especially celebrities with Irish ancestors. In our research on Claddagh designs for our own range of Irish Handmade Rings we discovered a whole host of famous Claddagh Ring wearers. Just as people from all walks of life fall in love with the symbolism of the claddagh ring, celebrities from a wide variety of places and industries have adopted the ring as their own. Here are 10 famous claddagh ring wearers – some of them may surprise you! But first, an explanation on the history and symbolism of the claddagh ring…
What is a Claddagh Ring?
There are very few people in Ireland who don’t know what a claddagh ring is, but for those further overseas, it is a traditional Irish ring that was customary for lovers to give one another during the 19th and 20th century, although that wasn’t how it originated. It is still popular today and often given as keepsakes, or for visitors to take home as souvenirs. At Claddagh Design, we handcraft Claddagh Rings from classic to our signature contemporary design for Irish families and non-Irish worldwide and have seen a huge growth in popularity. View our Claddagh Ring shop to see handmade Claddagh collection designed by our silversmith here in our workshop in County Cork, Ireland. The original design is attributed to Richard Joyce, who was a slave in the West Indies when he was captured by mediterranean pirates. He was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him, before setting up a jewellery business when he eventually got back to Galway in the 17th century.
The ring was adopted by the people of Claddagh village just outside the walls of Galway city (now more of a suburb of the city) whose inhabitants were well known for their staunch resistance of British influence and passion for sticking to their own customs, language, and way of life. The village was largely self sufficient, with the men heading out every day on boats known as Galway Hookers to catch fish from Galway Bay. When they returned, the women would bring the catch across the water to the city to sell. The fishermen of the village wore the ring as a sort of identification; so if anyone was found fishing in their territory and wasn’t wearing the ring, there would be a lot of trouble.
Claddagh Ring Symbolism
Eventually the ring made its way across the country to Dublin, where fashionistas fell in love with it and it became a must have accessory. Designs became more ornate with added jewels, but the basic elements stayed the same; a heart held by two hands with a crown on top; because of this particular design certain symbolism that the claddagh ring is now famous for became established. The heart was attributed to love, the hands to friendship, and the crown to loyalty. The ring became a popular gift for friends and lovers to give each other, and with increased emigration spread across the water to Britain, the United States, Canada and even some further flung places. Claddagh rings became family heirlooms or were even used as wedding rings.
An etiquette of sorts emerged about how to wear the ring in regard to your relationship status, although how this started and where it came from isn’t known. It all depends on which hand you wear the ring and in which direction. On the left hand, if the heart is pointing inwards towards your body, you are taken and it is a very serious relationship. On the right hand if the heart is pointing inwards, you have a special someone but you’re not necessarily committed to them; the ring was usually worn this way if given by a friend. If the heart points outwards on a right hand, you’re not in a relationship but you would like to be in one, and if it’s pointing outwards on the left hand, you’re definitely on the lookout for a husband or wife!
10 Famous Claddagh Ring Fans
1. Julia Roberts
Legend has it that Julia Roberts and Daniel Day Lewis once had a brief romance, although whether it’s true or not is debatable. Either way, she was spotted wearing a claddagh ring back in 1995, when the alleged romance was said to have occurred.
2. Jim Morrison
The enigmatic frontman of 1960s rock band The Doors was well known to have worn a claddagh ring. According to his lover Patricia Kennealy, they exchanged claddagh rings in a Celtic-inspired pagan commitment ceremony, with her wearing a silver one and him wearing a gold one. The ceremony is detailed in her book about their relationship and even even made it into Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie about Morrison’s life.
3. Liam Gallagher
One half of the Gallagher brothers and one quarter of the biggest British rock band of the 1990s, Oasis, it’s not surprising that Liam Gallagher has been known to wear a claddagh ring; he does have Irish roots, after all. He was regularly spotted wearing his claddagh ring in 1996 when he was engaged to Patsy Kensit, and his brother Noel apparently has a ruby studded version too.
4. Sienna Miller
British actress Sienna Miller was gifted with a claddagh ring by her on-again, off-again lover Jude Law. During one of their rocky patches in 2006, she told paparazzi how devastated she was about their break-up, and vowed to continue wearing the ring with the heart pointing inwards because Jude still had her heart.
5. Dermot O’Leary
Popular television and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary, who’s parents moved to the UK from Ireland, has a claddagh ring on his person at all times. Although he was born in England, Dermot has often said how proud he is of his Irish roots, and even holds dual British and Irish citizenship. His claddagh ring was given to him by his mother, and although he doesn’t wear it on his hand, he always keeps it with him wherever he goes.
6. Jennifer Aniston
One of Jennifer Aniston’s former romances from her Friends days was Tate Donovan – you may also know him as Joshua, Rachel’s short lived boyfriend who got scared away when she proposed and later answered the door in a wedding dress! In reality, they dated for three years, and for their first anniversary, they allegedly exchanged claddagh rings.
7. Sarah Michelle Gellar
The claddagh ring enjoyed a huge surge in popularity after it appeared on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel, the gentle vampire originally from Ireland, gave it to his love, Buffy, on her 17th birthday to symbolise their eternity together, and fans of the show went crazy for their own version of the ring.
8. John F Kennedy.
When President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie visited Galway in 1963 they were presented with a pair of claddagh rings to honour Kennedy’s Irish roots. He was photographed wearing the ring during the trip, so he must have liked it a lot!
9. Walt Disney
Walt Disney and his wife apparently purchased a pair of claddagh rings during a trip to Ireland, and wore them often. Walt’s statue in Disneyland even has the claddagh ring included on his outstretched hand, BUT – shock horror, the heart is pointing outwards. Either someone made a grave mistake, or Walt didn’t know how to wear his ring properly.
10. Kim Kardashian
According to media reports, when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had part of their honeymoon in Ireland earlier this year, Kanye picked up a silver claddagh ring along the way to give to Kim as a keepsake of their time here. There haven’t been any sightings of her wearing it yet, but with her every move so well publicised, we’ll probably find out soon enough!
There are plenty of other celebrities who have taken a shine to the claddagh ring too, and naturally, a lot of them have Irish roots. Any American president with Irish ancestry is usually presented with a pair of rings at some point or another; Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are just two who have been gifted with a set. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco are another political powerhouse who were pleased to receive claddaghs, although in this instance it was in the form of a brooch and a set of cufflinks, and not rings. Even some British royalty got in on the act; Queen Victoria received a ring in 1849 and later Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII also got a pair. From the entertainment industry, Mia Farrow, John Wayne, Bono, Maureen O’Hara, Gabriel Byrne and Bing Crosby are all mentioned in places as being claddagh ring wearers.
Don’t forget to take a look at our own Claddagh designs. We have men’s cufflinks and tie pins, Women’s Bracelets and Irish Pendants, as well as Wedding Rings. It’s a perfect way to keep this ancient history alive with a modern twist, and you never know, you may be mistaken for a celebrity when you wear it!
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