It’s Irish Heritage Month!

Aye there, lads and lassies – March is Irish Heritage month! Raise a glass to the rolling green hills and enchanting lore of Ireland. Did you know that about forty-four million Americans proudly share an Irish ancestry?

The main Irish event in March, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated with parades, family functions, church Masses, and more. The heritage of Ireland is also kept alive and well throughout the month in different U.S. communities with various local celebrations. Irish-American Heritage Month is an annual proclamation issued by the US President or Congress to honor the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the U.S.

Irish culture has many symbols, tales and superstitions. Just one of the interesting stories passed down through the generations includes the legend of the Claddagh. The Claddagh Ring signifies Love, Friendship and Loyalty or Fidelity. These rings are kept with great pride as family heirlooms, and are often passed down from mother to daughter on her wedding day. They are worn by both men and women all over Ireland and throughout the world. The design is of a heart held between two hands, with a crown on the top. The symbol also appears in other kinds of jewelry, but most commonly in ring form.

There are many versions of the beginning of legend of the Claddagh. Just one telling says that shortly before he was supposed to be married, a Claddagh fisherman named Richard Joyce was captured at sea by pirates and sold into slavery. His master was a rich goldsmith who decided to train him in the goldsmith craft. To keep his hope alive over the years, Richard stole a tiny speck of gold from his slave master’s shop each day. So many years passed that he was able to eventually make a gold ring. He hoped that, despite great odds, he would return home again to give this special gift to his love. This was the first Claddagh Ring.

King George III eventually made a deal with the slave master to release all his enslaved subjects, and thus Richard Joyce was a free man. Richard returned to his village just outside the city of Galway and found that his sweetheart had been true and faithful. He presented her with the Claddagh Ring and they were married.

Wearing the Claddagh:

-Worn on the right hand, crown turned inwards, your heart is yet unoccupied.
-Worn on the right hand, crown turned outwards, shows a special commitment to someone.
-Worn on the left hand, crown outwards, means that love and friendship reign forever –
never to be separated.

Do you have a Claddagh Ring? What’s the story behind yours?

Are you in the mood to share some Irish cheer? has Irish St. Patrick’s Day eCards that will help you deliver a wee bit o’heaven!