The Claddagh ring in Irish is fáinne Chladaigh. It is a traditional Irish ring given as a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship. Each part of the Claddagh ring has a meaning. The Claddagh ring hands represent friendship, the heart represents love and the crown represents loyalty.
The Claddagh ring design and tradition began in the small Irish fishing village of Claddagh, Ireland. Claddagh is situated just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. It is said that the Claddagh ring was first produced in the 17th century.
As the Claddagh story goes long ago a young man was captured and sold into slavery from the fishing village of Claddagh. Many years passed and he wondered if his true love would wait for him. Over the years he stole tiny bits of gold from his master to make her a ring. He fashioned a heart for love, a crown for loyalty and hands as a symbol of friendship. After many years he finally returned home to Claddagh. Upon his return and to his joy he discovered his true love had waited for him. He gave her the ring as a symbol of their love, loyalty and friendship forever known now as the Claddagh.
The Claddagh ring belongs to a unique style of European finger rings called “fede rings”. This name “fede” comes from the Italian phrase mani in fede, meaning hands joined loyalty used as engagement or wedding rings during the Renaissance.