The Claddagh Ring
Fede, or "Faith rings," of which the Claddagh is one, date from the times of the ancient Romans, and were popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The Claddagh ring is a symbol of love, friendship and loyalty; two hands (symbolizing friendship) clasp a heart (symbolizing eternal love) topped by a crown (symbolizing loyalty). You can view photos of Claddagh rings at AnIrishChristmas.com.
Circa 1689, in a fishing village called Claddagh near the present-day city of Galway, a master goldsmith named Richard Joyce first began crafting the Claddagh ring. The rings became wildly popular throughout Ireland, and when the famine of 1847 to 1849 caused mass emigration from the Emerald Isle, the fame of the Claddagh ring spread the world over. Many Irish people left with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a Claddagh ring, which for many represented their only savings and family inheritance. The Claddagh ring was traditionally handed down from mother to daughter, and became a symbol of the family’s Irish heritage.
Today, the ring is worn throughout Ireland, and is a popular choice as a wedding or engagement band. You can often tell the romantic status of an Irish lass by how she wears the Claddagh ring:
Worn on the right hand, heart pointing out, crown facing inward – the young lady is available for courting
Worn on the right hand, heart pointing in, crown out – she is spoken for (at least for the time being – be patient, laddie)
Worn on the left hand, heart in, crown out – she is happily married
There must have been a great number of Irish-Americans who lost their lives
in the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Rescue workers
recovered approximately 200 Claddagh rings from the rubble of the collapsed
buildings at Ground Zero.