Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ireland and Claddagh Rings: My First Visit to Ireland


I first bought my Claddagh ring in a shop in an old building along the narrow, ancient streets of Galway, Ireland, several years ago during a semester I studied abroad in England, Ireland and France with a group of students from my college.

I found the Irish history and culture captivating and the countryside beautiful and green, dotted with stone fences and sheep, with charming villages. And I learned about the interesting history and culture in Ireland. I’d wished I was Irish – and years later, I found out I had some Irish ancestors!

During my first visit to Ireland, we visited the Book of Kells (an intricate, illustrated book of the four gospels of the Bible thought to be from the 384 AD or so) at Trinity College Dublin, saw the amazing Long Room in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, biked around the Aran Islands, experienced St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, heard Irish music and visited the Cliffs of Moher. And we also learned about Irish authors during a semester abroad focused mainly on British and Irish literature and travel writing. 

In our free time during our visit to Galway, I browsed the shops, and I was drawn to the Celtic jewelry. I learned many of the Celtic symbols and symbols in jewelry had unique meanings.

I bought a Claddagh ring and other Celtic jewelry on that first visit to Ireland. The Claddagh ring is said to have originated in the Galway region. Many years ago, it was considered an engagement ring in Ireland. I’m not sure if it’s still used for that much now – but I bought it for myself because I liked the ring and its symbolism.

The meanings of the ring’s symbols include:

  • The heart (for love)
  • The crown (for loyalty)
  • The hands brought together to the center (for friendship)