Toast to love this St. Patrick’s Day with the Irish ring. Its origin and purpose dates back to love.
I am not Irish, but growing up with two very proud Irish Catholic cousins, I can appreciate the culture.
In high school I even joined Irish Club, and although I only went to a handful of meetings, I spent $25 on a black hooded sweatshirt that had my last name printed on the back and that proclaimed I was a member.
On the topic of St. Patrick’s Day accessories, I had no clue what to suggest other than telling you to take a trip to the Party City located at 330 Oregon Ave. There, you can stock up on sparkly green top hats and four-leaf clover-shaped beaded necklaces.
Then I thought about that Irish Club hooded sweatshirt and the design on the chest. It was a simple drawing of the Irish ring. I knew the design – a crowned heart held by two hands – but did not know the name.
Its proper name is the claddagh ring. I cannot properly pronounce the word, but at least I can spell it.
The rings, which come in various types of metal like gold and silver, feature the two hands and the crowned heart. Sometimes there is a rhinestone or precious gem encased in the heart.
They are worn as friendship rings, engagement rings and even as wedding bands. Traditionally, the ways in which they are worn are as symbolic as the rings themselves.
When worn so that the heart points toward your fingertips, you are telling careful observers that you are open to love.
When you wear the claddagh ring pointing away from your fingertips and symbolically to your own heart, it is a sign to others that you have already found that special someone and are very much in love.
Several legends of origin surround the claddagh ring.
One involves a man named Richard Joyce who fell in love with a young woman in the village of Claddagh in Ireland. While he was sailing to the West Indies in an effort to earn the money he needed to marry her, he was kidnapped by pirates. The pirates took him to Algiers where he learned to make jewelry and it was there that he designed the ring we know today. This ring he later presented to the woman who would be his wife after he escaped slavery.
Another legend claims the ring was dropped into the lap of a woman named Margaret Joyce who – after her first husband, perhaps Richard, left her wealthy – remarried and did many charitable deeds for which the local townspeople loved her.
Yet another legend suggests that a prince commissioned the ring in an effort to win the approval of the father of the young woman he adored. The ring is said to have been their wedding ring.
All these legends have in common the theme of love and loyalty in love. The ring is meant to symbolize these things.
The rings are usually expensive but until you find yourself a sweetie who can buy you a higher quality ring, it should not be as difficult to get your hands on one of the $25 14K gold claddagh ring sold by celticjewelry09 on Etsy.
The affordability of celticjewelry09’s ring leaves plenty of money left over for drinks this Saint Patrick’s Day. Just be sure to toast the ones you love.
Rosella LaFevre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.