Claddagh

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Claddagh

The Claddagh Ring (Fáinne Chladaigh in Irish) is a traditional Irish ring which represents the universal symbols of 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 ‘Claddagh’ in Galway. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century. There are many legends about the origins of the ring, particularly concerning Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700, who is said to have invented the Claddagh design as we know it. Legend has it that Joyce was captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs around 1675 while on a passage to the West Indies; he was sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the craft. King William III sent an ambassador to Algeria to demand the release of any and all British subjects who were enslaved in that country, which at the time would have included Richard Joyce. After fourteen years, Joyce was released and returned to Galway and brought along with him the ring he had fashioned while in captivity, what we've come to know as the Claddagh. He gave the ring to his sweetheart, married, and became a goldsmith. Today, people still wear the Claddagh ring as a Friendship, Engagement or Wedding Ring.

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