Saturday, November 22, 2008

For the Love of Crosses and Claddaghs

There are two icons of Irish culture that I dearly love.

The first is the Claddagh, the famous symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship:

The Irish Claddagh Symbol is named for the Irish coastal town of Claddag (pronounced "clah-dah"), where the ring design is attributed to an ancient local legend. The now famous tale, about a townsman kidnapped into slavery who returns to present a ring to his true love, is one of the most popular romantic tales of Ireland.
The way in which one wears the ring tells others of the wearer's "availability." If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart is facing outward, the wearer is not in a serious relationship. If the heart is facing the wearer, then she/he is "taken." If worn on the ring finger of the left hand, the wearer is most likely either engaged or married, depending on whether the heart if facing inward or outward.

Dating would be a lot simpler if everyone wore Claddagh rings!

My husband gave me a Claddagh ring for our first Christmas together. Unfortunately, it's a few sizes too small, so I have to wear it on the pinky of my right hand. But I do wear the heart facing inward, since my heart is taken. We gave our daughter a silver Claddagh bracelet for Christmas last year.

The Claddagh featured in the photo above was given to me by a dear friend, and hangs over my front door. It is not of Irish origin, but was hand-crafted by the monks at Saint Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, California.

My other favorite Irish symbol is the Celtic cross. I can't explain it, but when I see a Celtic cross, it's like it touches something deep inside of me... like it's making an ancient connection. Sounds crazy, I know.

Perhaps there is some truth to those DNA memory theories?

Different from "regular" crosses, the Celtic cross adds a wheel or ring around the intersecting lines of a cross. The cross "arms" always extend outside the ring.

It is believed that the Celtic cross was introduced by Saint Patrick in an attempt to help convert pagan followers to Christianity, thus linking the importance of the cross with the popular pagan symbol of the sun.

Pictured here from my collection is an example of the Celtic Cross of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is featured in the center, holding his staff, and surrounded by shamrocks and Celtic knots.

My plan is to have a wall of Celtic crosses in my house someday. But I'll need a few more years of collecting before I reach that goal!


Written for the 10th Edition, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture: For the Love of Ireland.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Print this post


Anonymous said...

What an all round great blog

Anonymous said...

You are unquestionably correct on this one

Anonymous said...

Curiously, a well written blog post.