The Claddagh Ring is believed to have originated in the fishing village. It was the only ring the Claddagh people wore continuously, and it was the custom of each generation to hand it down to the next generation as a marriage heirloom. The ring became popular in the middle of the 19th century, especially as it was the only ring made in Ireland worn by Queen Victoria and later by Queen Alexandra and King Edward V11. It is now used world wide as a wedding ring.
The Claddagh ring shows two hands holding a heart, which wears a crown. This logo is explained by the phrase " let love and friendship reign". On the Claddagh ring the hands signify faith, the heart signifies love and the crown signifies honour, loyalty or hope of further glory.
It was a custom that it is not right for a Claddagh person to buy a Claddagh ring, they must obtain it as a gift. The Claddagh ring has its own customs on how it is to be worn. For example, when you wear the ring on your hand with hand with the heart turned outwards the world will know your heart has not yet been taken. Wear it on the right hand with the heart the turned inwards and it shows you have friendship and love is being considered. But when worn on the left hand with the heart turned inwards, it means two lovers have joined forever or that they are married.
As a result of the celebration of the Millennium, Dillons of Galway have designed a new Millennium Claddagh ring both for men and women, but there will only be two thousand of these rings made.
The Dominican Fathers founded the Piscatorial School in 1846. Rev. Dr. Rushe, Prior of St. Mary's Church, founded the school to educate the children of the Claddagh in the arts of lace making and net mending. These skills would help them as adults to find employment during the Famine years. Within four years 521 Claddagh children were attending the Piscatorial School. The School cost £1,200 to build. The girls were taught to sew, spin, read and write. The boys were taught to make nets, read and write. Alas, this praiseworthy venture foundered in the course of time. By 1887 it was functioning as an ordinary primary school and in 1892 was being run by the parish. It still stands proudly beside the Church today. It is interesting to note that a Craft Centre was opened at the school about 100 years later in 1993 to keep the tradition of crafts alive in the area.
Piscatorial School today.
As it was back then.
Can you spot the difference?
To read about the Claddagh Hooker clickhere