Category Archives: Claddagh Story

Dublin Castle Hallmark

 

Dublin Castle, Ireland

Dublin Castle, Ireland

Crafted for Royal Claddagh in Dublin by master goldsmiths in the heart of Ireland’s capital city (est. 1907), the Royal Claddagh ring continues the centuries old tradition of the Galway Claddagh dating back to the 17th Century.

All Royal Claddagh rings and jewellery are heirloom quality solid gold and silver, stamped “Made in Ireland“, and more importantly officially assayed: tested for purity, and hallmarked for their quality and Irish origin by the Company of Goldsmiths in Dublin Castle. Genuine Irish Royal Claddagh rings continue a centuries old tradition and legal imperative of official hallmarking in Dublin Castle of all Irish gold, silver and platinum jewellery made in Ireland. This guarantees all its jewellery for authenticity and quality.

Under Irish law in 1637, pre-dating the ring, in the reign of Charles I, all jewellery of precious metals must be stamped with the official hallmark – the traditional letter symbol for the year it was crafted, a fineness mark guaranteeing the purity of the metal, and the official insignia of the Irish Assay Office in Dublin Castle.

The Company of Goldsmiths, as it is called, was formed, when on 22 December 1637 it was granted a charter by Charles I. The orders in this charter continue to this day and continue in the Acts of the modern Irish parliament – Dáil Éireann. It remains an offence to misrepresent the quality of jewellery under Irish law.

“5.-Subject to section 6 of this Act, a person who in the course of trade or business applies to any article which is not of precious metal a description indicating or specifying that the article is made wholly or partly of gold, silver or platinum, or who supplies or offers to supply or has in his possession for sale such an article to which such a description is applied, is guilty of the offence under section 2 of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, of applying a false trade description.”Hallmarking Act, 1981.

14ct Gold

 Royal Claddagh gold rings are hallmarked solid gold. A precious metal, pure gold is too malleable to work with and must be mixed in an alloy before it is strong enough to form jewellery. Carats (ct) in gold refer to the amount of pure gold in the metal. 14 carat (fineness 585) represents 14 parts in 24 – a purer gold than 9ct but remaining a strong durable alloy.

9ct Gold

Royal Claddagh gold rings are hallmarked solid gold. A precious metal, pure gold is too malleable to work with and must be mixed in an alloy before it is strong enough to form jewellery. Carats (ct) in gold refer to the amount of pure gold in the metal. 9ct (fineness 375) represents 9 parts gold in 24 – a strong durable alloy with all the beauty and shine of solid gold.

Sterling Silver

Royal Claddagh silver rings are hallmarked Sterling silver and stamped 925. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The minimum millesimal fineness is 925 – a standard of 925 parts of fine silver in each 1000. As with gold, on its own the pure precious silver metal is too weak for jewellery and is always worked as an alloy. The Sterling silver standard is its guarantee of purity.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle, where every ring must still be hallmarked. was the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922.  While the building itself mainly dates from eighteenth century, a castle has stood on the site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland. The Castle served as the seat of British government of Ireland under the Lordship of Ireland (1171-1541), Kingdom of Ireland (1541-1800) and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1800-1922).

It fulfilled a number of roles over the centuries. It was first and foremost a royal residence, resided in by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or Viceroy of Ireland, the representative of the King or Queen. The Viceregal Apartments (now called the State Apartments) remain one of the most splendid sites in Dublin, and are the location of the inauguration of the President of Ireland. The second in command in the Dublin Castle administration, the Chief Secretary of Ireland, also had his offices there. Over the years, parliament and the law courts met there, before moving to new purpose-built venues. It also served as a military garrison.

Every Royal Claddagh in the world has been here first.

The Meaning of the Claddagh Ring

Joyes Family CrestHistory of the Claddagh Ring

An original symbol of the Galway town of Claddagh, Ireland, (pronounced “klahda”) 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 women had never stopped faithful 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.

“Several individuals of this name have long felt grateful to the memory of William III. from the following circumstance, on the accession of that monarch to the throne of England. One of the first acts of his reign was to send an ambassador to Algiers to demand the immediate release of all the British subjects detained there in slavery, the dey and council, intimidated, reluctantly complied with this demand. Among those released, was a young man of the name of Joyes, a native of Galway, who, fourteen years before, was captured on his passage to the West Indies, by an Algerine Corsair; on his arrival at Algiers, he was purchased by a wealthy Turk who followed the profession of a goldsmith, and who observing his slave, Joyes, to be tractable and ingenious, instructed him in his trade in which he speedily became an adept. The Moor, as soon as he heard of his release, offered him, in case he should remain, his only daughter in marriage, and with her, half his property, but all these, with other tempting and advantageous proposals, Joyes resolutely declined; on his return to Galway he married, and followed the business of a goldsmith with considerable success” James Hardiman, The History of the Town and County of the Town of Galway.

The Meaning of the Claddagh Ring

The Royal Claddagh ring is worn by people all over the world as a symbol of love, loyalty, friendship and fidelity. The hands are there for friendship, the heart is there for love. For loyalty throughout the year, the crown is raised above.

Wearing the Claddagh Ring

  1. Worn on the right hand, with crown and heart facing out, the ring tells that the wearer’s heart is yet to be won.
  2. While under love’s spell it is worn with heart and crown facing inwards.
  3. Wearing the ring on the left hand, with the crown and heart facing inwards, signifies that your love has been requited.

The Claddagh Tradition

The traditional wedding ring of the Irish since the 17th Century, the Claddagh ring is worn by people all over the world as a universal symbol of love, loyalty, friendship and fidelity.

Traditionally handed down from mother to daughter the Royal Claddagh ring has also become a symbol of our ties with the past and generations gone by. As Irish people we remember the many many of our people who had to leave Ireland with nothing but their lives during the Great Famine of the 19th Century – many leaving from here in Cork harbour to make the long voyage across the Atlantic to America. The gold Royal Claddagh ring was to become for many the only enduring link with their home country and practically their only savings and family inheritance.

Further reflecting the troubled history of Ireland itself, a hundred years ago the Fenian ring, with two hands and two hearts, was distinguishing by its lack of a crown to represent the struggle for Republican Ireland – however the traditional Royal Claddagh ring has always remaining the Irish standard proudly wearing the crown as a symbol of loyalty, a remembrance of our ancient Irish Kingdoms, and of our own British heritage.

Notable wearers of the Claddagh ring have included Queen Alexandria and King Edward VII of Britain and Queen Victoria of Britain and Ireland as it was then – a woman for whom the streets of Dublin where lined with cheering people. And in the little principality of Monaco, the Claddagh tradition lives on in the Royal family of Monaco and the memory of the beautiful Irish princess – Princess Grace of Monaco.

“The Governor of New York, George Pataki, was accompanied by his mother, Peggy Lynch, among others, at last week’s annual fundraising dinner for the Flax Trust, which promotes economic development in the North, at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. Pataki, addressing the guests, said that when Brian Cowen was in New York recently, visiting Ground Zero, he had told him that he was asked by the parents of a missing city firefighter to inquire of the chief of the NYPD if a claddagh ring had been found in the wreckage. “Minister,” the chief told Cowen, “we have found 200 Claddagh rings.”

The ring, by which they had hoped to identify the body of their son, depicts two hands clutching a crowned heart symbolising love, friendship and fidelity. It was designed by Richard Joyce in Galway three centuries ago. It is as popular on the other side of the Atlantic as it is here. The discovery so early of so many in the ruins underlined “the loss suffered here and in Ireland”, said Pataki.” Irish Times, Weekend Sat, Oct 13, 01.

Today in the twenty-first Century, however, perhaps the most famous wearer of the Claddagh ring is the famous Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. A present to her on her 17th birthday from her vampire lover, Angel, the ring was to symbolise their enduring love for each other – in spite of the obvious difficulties and even one day call Angel back from Hell.

“My people – before I was changed – they exchanged this as a sign of devotion. It’s a Claddagh ring. The hands represent friendship, the crown represents loyalty … and the heart … Well, you know … Wear it with the heart pointing towards you. It means you belong to somebody. Like this.” Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Episode “The Surprise”.

Wedding Ring

The American poet and essayist Lynne McMahon, recipient of an Award for Literary Excellence from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Visiting Poet at the University of California-Irvine, writes a personal history of a stray Claddagh ring. The poem playfully abandons the traditional story “(tell me again the name of this thing?)” for an imagined history for a lowly stray ring found down the back of a seat in an empty Sligo diner – personal, not historic, yet no less real and enduring. “I never take it off”, she ends.

Common all over Ireland, unknown to me,
(tell me again the name of this thing?)
it’s a claddagh, a sweetheart ring,
silver hands clasping a rounded heart,
an apple, I mistakenly thought,
topped by a crown.
I still think of it as my regnant pomme
because it’s French, and wrong,
and invented etymologies pass the time
those days you’re gone.
Irish clichés, like certain songs,
wring from me
a momentary recognition that trash
sent bowling down the street
by sudden wind, or showery smoke trees
whipsawing across the path
their fine debris, means home to me,
and however long
estranged we’ve been, or silvered over
by borrowed themes,
these homely things make meaning of us.
I feel it just as much as you –
that near-empty diner in Sligo
where you found the ring
wedged in the cushioned booth,
rejected, perhaps, or lost,
hidden while the lover nervously rehearsed
his lines, then abruptly interrupted,
who knows how, and now distraught,
had no more thought for such
sentiment as this. I never take it off.”

Lynn McMahon

Billy Collins (Editor), “180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day”, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2005, ISBN 0812972961.

With This Ring With This Ring : The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Jewelry

With This Ring With This Ring : The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Jewelry (Hardcover) by Penny Proddow, Darrin Haddad, Marion Fasel, Suk Hee Ko Publisher: Bulfinch (November 16, 2004) ISBN: 0821228862

“The romantic Irish Claddagh Ring has two hands holding a heart with a crown. During the eighteenth century the design was used as an engagement ring in the fishing village of Claddagh on the western coast of Galway, but the motif didn’t originate there. It was a fancy court style set with diamonds in seventeenth-century Italy. The Irish adopted it, re-created it in gold, and name it after the fishing village. Frequently the rings were engraved with the alternating letters of the couple’s first names, one reading from the right and other from the left. For example, George and Sophia would be GaEiOhRpGoEs. Claddagh engagement rigns were passed down through the generations from mothers to daughter.”

How to Wear the Claddagh Ring

The Royal Claddagh ring is worn by people all over the world as a symbol of love, loyalty, friendship and fidelity. The hands are there for friendship, the heart is there for love. For loyalty throughout the year, the crown is raised above.

Worn on the right hand, with crown and heart facing out, the ring tells that the wearer’s heart is yet to be won.

While under love’s spell it is worn with heart and crown facing inwards.

Wearing the ring on the left hand, with the crown and heart facing inwards, signifies that your love has been requited.

“in friendship: on the right hand, with the point of the heart towards the fingertip. engagement: on the right hand, with heart pointing to the wrist. marriage: on the left hand, with heart pointing to the wrist. Claddagh rings are used as wedding rings especially in Connacht.” GreenSpeak