You may not have heard of a Claddagh Ring before unless you’re Irish, or have visited Ireland. If not, let me explain what it is.

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship – the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century.

The ring can be worn in four different ways, indicating the wearers relationship status:

  1. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
  2. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship.
  3. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
  4. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.

Thomas Dillon in Galway City claim to be the originators of the Claddagh Ring. The jewellers was established in 1750 and is purported to be the oldest jewellers in Ireland. Located on Quay Street in Galway, they have a small museum dedicated to the Claddagh Ring.

If you’re in Galway, take a look around the museum, buy your own ring, or better still get your partner to buy you one and then enjoy a drink in one of the many bars and restaurants in the Quay Street area.