The Claddagh Ring: Love, Loyalty, Friendship.

25 Jul

Disclaimer: I’m not too sure about the nuances of the actual claddagh ring, so what I’m about to explain may not be 100% accurate. If you do have a better idea, please feel free to comment!

(All images personal unless otherwise stated.)

Pre-engagement, on a normal, average day, Mr Big and I were out grocery shopping. So it was sort of surprising when he pulled me to the side and said, ‘I want to get you something, it’s called a claddagh’. I was puzzled, intrigued and confused. ‘What’s that?’, I asked. He then explained it to me:

‘It’s an Irish symbol of two hands holding a heart with a crown on it.’ After he saw my confused expression, he added: ‘It’s a symbol of love, friendship, and loyalty. The heart is love, the hands are friendship, and the crown is loyalty’.

Guys, whatever walls I had around my heart melted right there and then.

You see, Mr Big isn’t Irish but he has some Irish blood in him (he calls himself an English-bred mongrel). Combine that with his romantic idea of our relationship and his love for Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ (fans will get the reference!), and well, the claddagh becomes a lot more than an Irish tradition.

The claddagh ring: the symbol of love, friendship and loyalty. / Image via uniquesilverjewellery.net

So for those who don’t know what the claddagh is? Let me introduce you to Professor Google:

An original symbol of the Galway town of Claddagh, Ireland, (pronounced “cla” as in “class” and “ddagh” pronounced “da” as in “dad”) was first fashioned into the traditional ring back in the 17th Century during the reign of Mary II.

Legend has it that an Irish young man, Richard Joyce, bound for the West Indian slave plantations – no doubt the Irish Caribbean island of Montserrat – was kidnapped himself in rough seas by a band of Mediterranean pirates and sold to a Moorish goldsmith who over the many long years of his exile helped him perfect the skills of a master craftsman.

When in 1689 King William III negotiated the return of the slaves, Joyce returned to Galway – despite, it said, the Moor’s offer of the daughter’s hand in marriage and a princely dowry of half of all his wealth.

Back in Ireland, a young woman had never stopped faithfully waiting for her true love to return. Upon which time when he presented her with the now famous Royal Claddagh gold ring – a symbol of their enduring love. Two hands to represent their friendship, the crown to signify their loyalty and lasting fidelity, and the sign of the heart to symbolise their eternal love for each other.

They soon married, never to be separated again.

(Taken from claddagh.com; edited by yours truly.)

I hear the resounding ‘AWW!’ from all the girls (or the, ‘OMG he’s so cheesy’, either one works).

On my 23rd birthday I was given a claddagh ring. It’s a simple 9k gold ring which I wore pretty much every day (shown in the pictures below!) until we were engaged. Apparently, not only is the heart, hands and crown symbolic, but the way the ring is worn is symbolic too.

On the right hand, when the ring is worn with the crown facing towards your body (or towards your heart), it means that you are available, as seen below:

claddagh_right hand_heart out

I should be a hand model. Not.

However, turn it the other way, with the crown facing away from your body, and you’re officially in a relationship:

claddagh_right hand_heart in

When the ring is on the left hand with crown facing away from the body, your status officially changes to having found your true love (which is how I wear my engagement ring):

claddagh_left hand

You can think of it as a Facebook status: “single” is crown facing in towards the body; “in a relationship” is crown facing away from the body on the right hand; and “engaged” and “married” is crown facing away from the body on the left hand. As for the status, “it’s complicated”, the only way I can think to wear the ring is… on your thumb? Any other suggestions?

Another reason why we think, and more importantly Mr Bighorn thinks, that the claddagh is significant to our relationship is the connection between my name and the ring.

As previously mentioned, the claddagh ring is the symbol of love, loyalty and friendship – three traits both Mr Big and I value. My middle name is derived from my Chinese name and has the Chinese character “AI” in it. “AI”, for those who don’t know, means ‘love’ in Chinese, the character of which looks something like this:

chinese character_love

“AI” – the Chinese word for ‘love’ – it’s even in a heart love! / Image via okiWoki

My last name, on the other hand, is a relatively popular Indonesian and Malaysian last name. However, according to my trusty friend, Mr Wikipedia, the name allegedly derived from a Malaysian town known as Sitiawan. This name is a portmanteau of the two words: ‘Setia’ and ‘Kawan’. And what do these two mean?

You guessed it: loyal friend.

And there we have it. Parts of my name mean love, loyalty, and friendship. So, according to Mr Big, ‘you are the ring!’.

Anyone else been called an inanimate object? 🙂 Who else thinks I’d make an awesome hand model? (not.)

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2 Responses to “The Claddagh Ring: Love, Loyalty, Friendship.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Claddagh Ring: Part II « The Wedding Rollercoaster - July 26, 2012

    […] again! On a previous post I mentioned the claddagh ring and it’s significance to my fiance and I. Well today, my fiance mentioned something that I should have  mentioned previously: the […]

  2. A Very Chinese Invitation: Going into Detail… (Part 1) | The Wedding Rollercoaster - August 14, 2013

    […] again, I used symbols which are special to GP and I. The ‘Claddagh’ ring, which has represented GP and my relationship since we were first dating, and the Chinese […]

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