The Claddagh symbol today is so widely recognized that people who are unaware of the legend of the Claddagh story or what the symbol means, still recognize it as an Irish symbol. The irony of this present day recognition is that the small fishing village of Claddagh were very private people.
Claddagh had its own king and lived apart from the rest of Ireland with its own laws and unique customs. The people who lived in the village of Claddagh were simple people who lived in thatched cottages and made a living from fishing. The men fished in small boats called Claddagh Hookers. Prior to 1790, these boats were small recognizable vessels made out of tarred timbers and blackened by creosote and coal and had a mast with three brown sails. Once the men returned with their catch of the day, the women sold the daily catch in the fish markets.
After 1930 many of the men joined the British navy whose ships arrived in Galway Bay with their stark artillery. The thatched cottages where nearly completely destroyed by 1934 and the now famous little village was left to be rebuilt.
For More Claddagh History
Today Claddagh rings can be found wherever there are lasting friendships and undying love. People of all walks of life wear Claddagh rings. The symbolism of the ring holds great meaning for many. One has only to read The Claddagh Ring, Ireland’s Cherished Symbol of Friendship, Loyalty and Love by Malachy McCourt to understand the richness of the history behind the ring and the impact that it has on life today. Written in 2003, the book is an engaging account of the people behind the legend.
The poem about the Claddagh ring holds true today:
The hands are there for friendship,
The heart is there for love,
For loyalty throughout the year,
The crown is raised above.