It’s been one of those days. Not terrible by any stretch, but just blah. Quite early in the day, I became intrigued by the rings on my fingers. On days when my hands are particularly cold (which is most days in the winter) my rings will spin on them and if it weren’t for my knuckles, the rings would fall right off. I will then, absentmindedly, fiddle with rings, placing them back straight and watching them twist out of place again. On my left hand, I have a simple gold ring on my middle finger that was my grandmother’s. On my right hand, I have a gold Claddagh ring on my ring finger. It was the Claddagh ring that gave me food for thought for the day.
I wear my Claddagh ring because I love it and I have always admired them. Although I have no Irish roots (that I know of) the idea of the ring – love, friendship, and loyalty – and its Celtic origins appeal to me. But beyond the fact that it was Irish, I really had no idea of its exact origins. Apparently it was first produced in a small fishing village in Ireland named Claddagh which is just outside the city of Galway. Interestingly the name Claddagh is from the Gaelic word An Cladach, meaning “the shore” or “the beach”, which can be found in both Ireland and Scotland (there’s a small village on the Isle of Arran named Cladach as well – but has no relation to the ring).
The Claddagh ring, first appearing as we know it today in the 17th century, developed out of the Fede and Gimmel rings of Europe. The Fede ring originated during Roman times and became engagement rings during the Middle Ages. This ring has two hands, a male and a female hand, clasped in Fede (in faith). The Gimmel ring is French in origin and is much more ornate and made of two or more separating hoops. It can be worn by both betrothed and then reconnected on the woman’s finger upon marriage.
It’s a neat history, the one of rings, and I wish I had more time to look into it. Although you see the Claddagh symbol everywhere nowadays – not just on rings – it’s nice to be wearing one based on an original. One remarkable thing about the Claddagh ring is that it often strikes up conversations between strangers. “Oh!” they’ll say, “You’re wearing a Claddagh ring. So am I.” and it goes from there. Sometimes, the smallest things can give us the greatest pleasure.