A tradition hundreds of years old, the Claddagh ring is a form of faith ring and comes from the fishing village of Claddagh outside the city walls in Galway.
In the Famine times, hoards of Irish men, women and children left the country and ended up in such faraway places as America and Australia and the Claddagh motif and ring is a valued symbol of Irish heritage for exiles as well as those at home.
Although some sources say the Claddagh ring originated about 300 years ago, others say it goes back to Medieval times. It is true that the tradition of the Faith Ring was very popular in the Middle Ages, but whether the actual Claddagh begun then or not isn't clear.
The design is as follows- hands are for friendship, the heart is for love, the crown is for loyalty.
Depending on which hand it is worn and which way up, it indicates the romantic and marital status of the wearer.
The Claddagh Ring - www.youtube.com/watch?v=F88MVWRQCCE
This photo features on this website; www.dochara.com/things-to-buy/the-claddagh-ring/
and this blogpage; www.wedding.de/hochzeits-blog/20090226/prinzessin-victori...