The Claddagh Ring is named after its birthplace, the tiny fishing village of Claddagh just outside the ancient walls of Galway city.
The Claddagh Ring was first made by Richard Joyce, a member of an ancient Galway family who was abducted by Algerian Corsicans while on a sea voyage and sold as a slave to the Moors. It was during this period that Joyce was taught to work as a goldsmith. In 1689 he was released as part of a general amnesty agreed by William III of England and the Moors. Joyce returned to Galway where he set up as a goldsmith. It was here on the shore or "Claddagh" of Galway Bay that the first Claddagh Ring was created.
At first the ring was worn only by the local fisher folk of the village, a simple folk who only spoke Irish, to whom the ring had great significance. It was used as a wedding ring and was often handed down from generation to generation.
The Claddagh rings unique motif, a symbol of love and friendship combined with its strange history has made the ring increasingly popular throughout the world. The Claddagh symbol has been adapted for other items of jewelry, such as bangles, earrings, bracelets and pendants.
However, for the Irish at home or abroad it remains a symbol of the Irish way of life.
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