Strega Jewellry's Blog

jewelry, beads, stone lore, music, kids and nature

Traditional Irish Gifts

This week, I want to tell you about two of the best known traditional Irish gifts.   I promised I’d be blogging about Ireland all month because I’m participating in the Travel Blog Challenge hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Tr0vati from her blog, Inspiration is Everywhere.

Treasures Found :: Inspiration is Everywhere

If you’ve ever owned a sweater made in the style of the Aran Isle knits, you know how warm and cozy they are.

For ages, the women of Aran knitted their husbands heavey “ganseys” to keep them warm on the often treacherous sea. In the last part of the 19th century the Irish govenment made an effort to try to improve the economic conditions of the poor densely populated rural areas by setting up knitting and crochet and lace making schools.   Teachers traveled the country teaching new skills.   The talented women of Aran used the new skills and some of their old ways to create the beautiful sweters that are so well known today.  The Aran Isles are a rough and windswept area, a predominantly fishing area.   Every stitch has a meaning, from the Tree of Life that brings good luck for the person who wears the sweater to the zigs and zags of the Marriage Lines that represents the ups and downs of married life.

If I traveled to Ireland I would love to see Aran and get myself one of these sweaters made right there.

Aran Isle coast

An Irish gift that has gained much popularity in the past few years is the claddagh ring.   Back in Roman times, fede rings were very popular, two clasped hands were a symbol of faith, a pledge for two people who were going to be wed.  Often they were used as wedding rings. Sometimes, they were used as a pledge of friendship.

  The claddagh ring went a couple of steps farther.   It’s hard to trace the origin of the ring’s design.  There are two stories, both attributed to the Joyce family of Galway.  The most believable seems to be the romantic tale of Richard Joyce, a Galway man who was captured by Algerian corsairs and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.   This man trained Joyce in his craft and Joyce became  a master.  King William III negotiated for his release but the Moor wanted him to stay, offering him a great deal of wealth and the hand of his daughter.   Joyce, however was determined to return to Galway and the woman he loved.   He brought with him the idea for the ring in 1689.   The earliest claddagh rings bear his mark.   Two hands clasp a heart, on top of which is a crown.   The ring symbolizes love, friendship and loyalty.   It has become a major part of Irish heritage.

Originally, Joyce came from Galway near the village of Claddagh, a fishing village in the Arans.  The name comes from the Irish word claddach, which means “stony beach”.

The ring worn on the right hand, crown turned inward tells your heart is yet unoccupied, worn with the crown turned outwards reveals love is being considered. Worn on the left hand the crown turned outward shows all, your heart is truly spoken for.

I found this beautiful picture of the Claddagh village shore courtesy of Adrian!! on Flickr.   Check him out.   His pictures are amazing.

Adrian!!’s beautiful Claddagh village shore

If I could go to Ireland, these are definitely some places I would want to see.    Both of these pictures inspired me to make color palettes for future inspiration.  (I TOLD you I was addicted to Picmonkey!)

collage from Claddagh fishing village

coast: Aran Isles

You can see I’m going to have a really hard time deciding what my showcase piece will be for the reveal blog on September 1st.


August 19, 2012 - Posted by | Jewelry | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Really Amazing Irish gifts
    Specially, I like Irish ring so much…


    Comment by alexjuvion | October 19, 2013 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: