Irish Claddagh Rings

The original Irish Claddagh rings were made in the village of Claddagh, reportedly by a 17th century man out of legend named Richard Joyce. A native of Galway County, Mr. Joyce was kidnapped on the high seas by swarthy Algerian pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa. He was trained as a goldsmith by his Moorish captors, and when, at long last he earned his freedom, he was one of the finest metalworkers in all the region.

Mr. Joyce had become such a talented goldsmith that his former "owner" promised him great riches - and even the hand of his own daughter in marriage - if Richard would stay. But money was no object to Mr. Joyce, who refused to be any further parted from his true home, the little village of Claddagh, Ireland. In 1689, he returned to Galway county, and set up shop with his new trade, where, legend has it, he made the first Claddagh ring.

To be sure, there are more theories than just this about the origin of the Claddagh ring. One highly unlikely, but charmingly fanciful version tells of a good-deed-doing-Darlin' - also from Galway - and also surnamed Joyce. Legend has it that this Joyce, Miss Margaret Joyce, married a dashing and wealthy Spaniard. But their joy was not to last.

The Dashing Spaniard died, but, not before willing his entire fortune to his lovely bride. Apparently Miss Joyce was not to be unattached for long, since she soon-after married the Mayor of Galway. As the First Lady of Galway, she used enormous sums of her inherited wealth to build bridges, help the common people, and to all reports, operate as a wonderful benefactress of the town and its citizenry.

Then, one day, toward the end of her life, Miss Joyce was sitting on a beautiful hand-hewn bench, under sunny Irish skies, when, lo! A giant eagle flew past. He circled her and circled her, and finally, swooped down, opening his beak as he did so. Out of his mouth and into her lap, like a thank you gift from the gods for all her generosity to the little people, fell the first Claddagh ring.

Aye, the second one is probably malarkey. But we like telling it anyway. Whichever story you personally prefer, we've got lots and lots of beautiful Claddagh rings, made right here in Ireland, to inspire your own storytelling abilities. Thanks for your interest in Irish Claddagh rings, and for taking the time to visit us here at Rings from Ireland.