The story of the Claddagh begins in the early 16th century in the village of Claddagh on the west coast of Ireland with a man named Richard Joyce. Soon to be wed, Joyce and his fishing boat capsized off the coast of Ireland, he was rescued by Spanish pirates and promptly sold into slavery. Forced to leave behind Ireland his homeland and the woman he loved, Richard was taken to a faraway country and sold to a goldsmith who taught him the craft of goldsmithing.
Meanwhile his beloved, broken hearted and not knowing what happened Richard or if she would ever see him again, patiently waited for his return. Years passed. The details of Richard’s escape from slavery some eight years later are unclear but upon his return to the village of Claddagh he found his beloved still waiting for him and overjoyed with his return.
Richard immediately set to crafting a unique ring fashioned of three symbols: The Hands signifying Friendship, Crown – Loyalty, and Heart - Love. To this day the Claddagh continues to be one of Ireland’s most beloved symbols of enduring love among Irish people.
Meaning of the Celtic Knot
All Celtic knots, whether square, triangle or round, symbolize“no beginning, no end... infinity,” the intertwining of this world and the “other” or spiritual world, the continuity of life paths, the mingling of relationships, and the binding together of all.
The history of the Celts is an oral one and the exact meaning of their artwork, including all Celtic knots, is unsure. However scholars believe the round Lugh knot comes from Celtic mythology with Lugh being the Celtic god of Harvest; to this day a festival called Lughnasa is celebrated, in Ireland and in the Celtic Isles, halfway between the Summer solstice and Autumn equinox.
The triangular three-point knot called Triquetra, Triknot or Trinity has meaning for Christians and pagans alike. Early Christians adopted it as a symbol of the three-in-one God or Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triquetra is often found in insular art such as illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. It is also found in similar artwork on Celtic crosses from the early Christian period. Pagans took it as a symbol of division of the world into the realms of Earth, Sea and Sky, and as a symbol of the triple goddesses, for example, Epona and The Morrígan.