Claddagh tattoos are based on a very old Celtic design of reputed Irish origin. These designs are composed two hands holding a heart topped with a crown. They represent love, friendship and loyalty, and are often seen as expressions of one’s beliefs, emotions and aspirations.
Claddagh designs are often worn as rings and are popular symbols of love and friendship. There are a variety of legends about the origin of the Claddagh ring. One story tells of a prince who fell in love with a common maid. To convince her father his feelings were genuine and that he had no intentions of dishonoring the girl, he designed a ring with hands representing friendship, a crown representing loyalty and a heart to represent love. He proposed to the maid with this ring, and after the father heard the explanation of the symbolism of the ring, he gave his blessing.
The most popular legend tells of a man named Richard Joyce, who was captured while at sea and sold as a slave to a goldsmith in Algiers. He was trained to work with gold, and did so until King William III took the throne and required the Moors to release all British slaves. Richard’s slave master was so pleased with his work that he offered him half of his fortune—as well as the hand of his daughter—if he chose to stay. Richard said no, and continued home to give his true love the Claddagh ring that he designed and forged while he was a slave.
Claddagh rings are often worn as symbols of love. Many people give these Irish rings as engagement rings, or wear them as wedding bands. The way a Claddagh ring is worn on the hand is usually intended to convey the wearer’s romantic availability, or lack thereof. Traditionally, if the ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart facing away from the body, this indicates that the wearer is not in a serious relationship and may in fact be looking for a relationship. When worn on the right hand facing towards the body, this implies that the person is in a relationship, or that “someone has captured their heart.” A Claddagh ring that is worn on the left hand, facing away from the body, generally means that the person is married.
Claddagh Tattoo Designs
As tattoo designs, the Claddagh image of two hands holding a crowned heart may be designed in numerous different styles and sizes. These three separate images (heart, hands and crown) each have their own meaning. The heart, which is placed in the middle of the design, reflects love, while the hands holding the heart are symbolic of friendship, (both platonic and romantic). The crown placed on top of the heart represents loyalty.
Claddagh tattoos are often used as wedding ring tattoos and may also be combined with the name of one’s beloved. This design is also commonly used for chest, arm, back, wrist and ankle tattoos. Claddagh tattoos are easily personalized by adding different elements to the design, such as Celtic knots, Celtic crosses, flames, Tribal art, flowers, a loved one’s name or even a meaningful quote.
View professionally designed Claddagh tattoos NOW!