History and Meaning of Claddagh Tattoos

By Tattartist On July 24, 2010 Under Love Tattoos

A beautiful and meaningful claddagh tattoo design on calf.The Claddagh tattoos are historically memorable that depict a heart being held by both hands having a crown above the heart.  The tattoo is interpreted as “here is my heart in both hands crowning it with my love.”  The design is symbolic of love represented by the heart, offer of friendship symbolized by the hands, and commitment to loyalty signified by the crown.

A few stories are attached to claddagh tattoos, and one original story that happened in real life is believed by many historians.  History narrates that an Irish goldsmith by the name of Richard Joyce who comes from Galway, Ireland travelled to West Indies to do some work.  He left a promise to his sweetheart that they will get married as soon as he returns.  However, he was held captive, and sold to a Moorish goldsmith as a slave.

A claddagh tattoo at man's upper back.When William III became the king England, he was released as a free man.  Having a great respect for him due to his expertise in art, the Moorish goldsmith offered his daughter to him for marriage plus half of his wealth in exchange for terminating his plans to go back to Galway. However, Joyce did not accede to his offer, and proceeded to his hometown to marry his fiancée.

It was known that when he was a slave of the Moorish goldsmith, Joyce made a claddagh ring to be given as gift to his beloved.  He then gave this ring to her and got married upon his return to Galway.  The ring became a popular legacy in Ireland, and was used to symbolize an intense love traditionally.  It became an Irish heritage which is worn by many people, and considered as source of origin for the claddagh tattoos.

An Irish claddagh tattoo on arm.Another story of these tattoos narrates that a prince was in ardent love with a housemaid, for whom he created a design of the claddagh ring to prove to his own father that he was deeply in love with the maid.  His explanation for the ring was that the heart signifies love, both hands symbolize friendship, and the meaning of the crown is loyalty.  Sensing his truthful intention, and being impressed with his description of the design, his father blessed the union of the couple.

The claddagh tattoos are very unique in design, and do not need customization.  They are worn both by males and females, and can be crafted in plain white and black, or different colors.  These tats are usually embedded on men’s biceps; while in case of women, they wear them on their back or wrist.  You can have this tattoo on foot if you want to cover the whole upper part of your foot, or you can have it etched on your entire chest area.

A variety of choices for these delicate and intricate tattoo designs are available for you to choose from.  You can opt to combine the claddagh tattoos with names printed beneath them, or you can also carve a tattoo on your finger to look like a ring design.

A popular claddagh tattoo design for man and women.

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