Tuesday, 10 April 2012

What does wearing the Claddagh mean to you?

In its original version, the Claddagh ring has a heart held by two hands. A crown is shown on the top of the heart. The first Claddagh ring was made as a show of love between two hearts that were oceans apart. The heart denotes love, the hands show friendship and togetherness. Finally, the crown signifies loyalty.

If your Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing your finger nail (outwards) it shows that your heart is open or available But, wearing your Claddagh on your right hand with the heart facing your wrist (inwards), is a sign of friendship prior to the wedding. It thus shows that your heart is taken. How you wear your Claddagh ring on your right hand can send different messages about your relationship status.

I wear mine on my left hand, middle finger because that’s where it fits best. I wear it with the heart facing me as I want to be able to look at my ring and enjoy it.

For me the Claddagh is a link to others: first of all to my grandmother back in Dublin.

I can’t remember my first one but I do remember that as children my sister, Sandra, and I would receive small silver Claddgahs through the post from my grandmother. Sandra remembers them coming with the boxes of shamrock for St. Patrick’s day. There’s no way we would have had a new one each year but we both remember always having one to wear, even if it meant moving them on to smaller fingers till the new one came!

Those early Claddaghs were silver and getting a gold one was a step towards adulthood. Sandra bought her first gold one out of her 21st birthday money. A partner bought mine for me and I gave them my silver one to wear. My niece wears my Mum’s.

Although I knew something of the rules about how to wear the Claddagh, for me it always simply meant that I belonged. It was something special amongst us all that the English kids and their parents didn’t understand. Like a secret handshake (without the sinister connotations) spotting a Claddagh on someone’s hand told you something about them without ever having to say a word. I always especially loved the fact that men wore them too: somehow it went way beyond jewellery and is still a powerful symbol of belonging for us all.

What does wearing the Claddagh mean to you?

For more pictures of Claddagh rings click here. Please upload your own or send yours into me and I’ll put them into our ever growing photo collection!

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.


  1. Cynthia Edwards wears hers on her right hand, 3rd finger. Cynthia is English but has loved Irish music and all things Irish for along time. Cynthia gave a claddgah to her friend John Myers a long time ago and he gave one back to her as asymbol of their friendhsip and committment to each other.

  2. I've always worn my Claddagh (a gift from my Grandmother, Kathleen Dunne)as a sign of my heritage and to celebrate my difference from the English kids I grew up around.

    I'm 'Coventry Irish' but came to Leicester for work in 2001 - my wife and step-daughters were all born in England, and have English and Carribbean heritages. I love the mixed-up, melting pot nature of my family, and of Leicester.

    On my last trip to Galway on holiday, I visited the Claddagh area and heard two stories (in the pub!) about the origin of the Claddagh: one had the Claddagh made by a man abducted from Galway Bay by African pirates and held in slavery - the ring was a reminder of home and clann. The second told of an earlier ring featuring the hands only and worn by women, that signified their traditional ownership of the beach and it's produce (seaweed etc).

    I've just returned from a family history trip to Clonbullogue, Co. Offally and Dalkey, Co. Dublin (Mother, Joan Dunne)and to Milltown, Co. Kildare (Father, Graham, whose family were O'Rourke and Flood. Think we may have unearthed some skeletons, no longer in the closet!

    Davey Ivens

  3. Lynda Callaghan19 April 2012 at 14:26

    Good to hear from you Davey. If you're on Facebook you might want to join the Irish in Leicester group. I'm linking in there to Nottingham/Birmingham etc as well as other national groups.

    You might be interested in this, English Accent, Irish Soul,at The Custard Factory, Birmingham till April 28.


    How did you come across the blog?

  4. My grandmother is half-irish, I'm part chinese, part english, and part irish. I've becoming to Ireland every single year since I was about 6 and I've always loved it here. Like I had a special connection to this country. 2 years ago my grandmother bought me a silver Claddagh ring for my birthday. I wore it all the time, sleeping, showering, no matter what I was doing. I met someone in Australia and she had a Claddagh ring, and because of that I felt like I had a connection with her. That's what the Claddagh means to me, connection. It reminds me all the time of my love for Ireland. After a year wearing my silver Claddagh, a crack appeared and the ring broke. I went a year without wearing a Claddagh till I could get one this year again, as an early 16th birthday present. In gold this time. I'm so proud of it and getting used to it's thick weight on my middle finger of my right hand. I prefer it there because I feel it looks better because it's balanced and not leaning to one side as it would if it were on my fourth. :)

  5. Irish in Leicester12 June 2012 at 09:48

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I can identify completely with the silver/gold transition. I remember the silver ones cracking but it also felt like a rite of passage to move on to a gold one like my parents had.

  6. Really a nice post and good information on how to wear the Irish Claddagh ring in a correct way...!!

    Keep it up and maintain in your way..!!!