Legends behind The Claddagh Ring


A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanted land, full of legend and lore. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to rolling green hills and miles of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on misty hillsides, it’s like stepping back in time to another era when life was much simpler.

A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wild. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filled on the island. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote parts of Ireland. But the best part of the trip was learning the legend of The Claddagh Ring, which has a rich history dating back three hundred years.

According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the blarney from time to time. Some say the ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original Claddagh was brought to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith. But whatever the case, the legend of the Claddagh has lived for the past several centuries. And in today’s material world where love and marriage are taken far too lightly, the legend strengthens relationships. The wearer of the Claddagh is said to be blessed with love, friendship and loyalty forevermore.

But in order for the Claddagh to cast its mystical spell, the Claddagh must be worn a certain way. The design consists of two hands holding a heart with a crown on top of the heart. The hands represent friendship, the heart is for love, and the crown is for loyalty. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer is looking for love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer has found love. But when worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found its soulmate for life and will be forever blessed.

Being Irish and awed by the legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. And while touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare. The Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious, the Cliffs of Moher. A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags crest on the cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind on my back and the sun on my face, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. Here is a blurb and excerpt:

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.” Thomas Campbell

Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort
in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan
meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full
circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.
Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and
has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls
hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors
pull them together—or break them apart?
As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and
violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew,
corn beef and cabbage and soda bread wafted through the room.
Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through
the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting
lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped
what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother,
she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh
Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the
song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.
“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry,
I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue.
“I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand
and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?”
“The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart
facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.”
“Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya
can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya
know they’re all married.”
Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died.
It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised
me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before
you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers.
“What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”
The Claddagh Ring Available Now!
To see the book trailer, visit my website:

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith


  1. Wishing you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.

    Love and Blessings,


  2. My kind of book. It sure sounds good and it's on my TBL. Happy St.Patrick Day. susan L.

  3. Sharon, what a lovely post - full of the kind of beautiful imagery I'd expect from Ireland. I've never been fortunate enough to see the Emerald Isle, but seeing it through your words and descriptions is lovely! The Claddagh Ring is such a wonderful work. You did a great job with it! Blessings!

  4. Thanks for painting such a beautiful picture in my mind.

  5. Top of the Mornin' To Ya, Sharon. Ah, the old sod! Our family's roots are in Galway. Yes, there's still a plaque identifying "Lynch's Castle" in Ireland. Kathie took a photo of it for posterity. :-) It graces a bank building now. The mists of Ireland cloak the "wee" people, so we heard at our grandparents' knees. We both own Claddagh rings - the hearts turned inward on our left hands. :-) Happy St. Pat's Day. We have corned beef and cabbage at the ready! Thank you for a lovely post. Your book sounds magical. All the best! And The Rest Of the Day to You!

  6. Hi Susan, so happy you enjoyed reading about the book and legend behind the claddagh. Very mystical and magical, so it 'tis!

  7. Hi Marianne, thank you so much! Ireland is indeed a land of legend and lore, very captivating in its own right. I really hope you get the opportunity to visit the isle one day. Keep wishing on the pot o' gold or the claddagh!

  8. Thanks, Carol Ann! Dining in a castle where the Earl himself used to entertain was very atmospheric for a book too. Everything about Ireland drew me in, the harps and violins, the fiddle, the lilt of the people, but mostly, its rich history and its uncanny ability of stopping time.

  9. Ah, yes, the lovely sisters! Top o' the mornin' to you, too! Galway roots, now there's a fine root indeed. The wee Irish have a way of casting a whimsical spell with the legend and lore, don't they though? Castles are so mystical and quite common in Ireland, just as the sheep are high on a hilltop. Not much for corned beef myself, but traditions are traditions and must be kept. I'll be makin' me soda bread and stew in a slow cooker. I had to laugh, because when in Ireland, the second you say, "Top o' the morning," someone will respond, "And the rest of the day to ya too!"

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you fine ladies.

  10. Hi Sharon,
    Lovely description of Ireland and I love the legend of the claddagh ring. I enjoyed the excerpt from your book. Your characters live.
    I want to visit Ireland some day. Would love to go on St. Pat's Day as that is my anniversary but I'm told the weather would not be very nice that time of year.
    Happy St. Pat's Day to all.

  11. Hi Linda, thank you so much. Ireland was lovely, and I really hope you get a chance to go one day. We were there in June and the weather was fall-like. So March would probably be quite cold. What I found to be most interesting--and perhaps something keeping it timeless and ageless--is the fact they have no air conditioning. There is no need for it, the native Irish informed us. Even in the 5 star hotels, all the windows are wide open in the hallways, keeping them quite airy with the sea breeze drifting in. And no bugs, they say, unless they are full o' the old blarney. Happy St. Patrick's Day and a Happy Anniversary!

  12. Sharon, this is a fabulous post! Even though I have not one drop of Irish blood, I love their legends and hope to get there some day to visit a friend in Dunnagals.

    This indeed sounds like my kind of book. Thanks!

  13. Lovely post Sharon. I've never been to Ireland but I think it's very similar to my native Wales, certainly the climate's much the same, there's only a wee drop of water between the two countries!

    I never tire of hearing about the Claddagh ring, and your story is wonderful, you have such a wonderful way with words and it is such a romantic tale, I can recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet.

  14. Great post, love this stuff : )

  15. Hi Tanya, thank you so much. I hope you get to go visit your friend. I'm sure you will feel the same way, in awe of the matgic of the land.

  16. Hi Lyn. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading the Claddagh Ring. And yes, Wales and Ireland surely must share some of the wonderful land as well as so many myths and legends!

  17. Robin, hello and Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading a bit of the whimsical today! You would love Ireland, I am certain.

  18. Sharon, I'm late getting back but I am sure the Irish are telling the truth about the bug and no a/c. I know it was true in England just across the Irish Sea. I was horrified that our flat had no screens nor a/c and thought we'd die when summer came. What summer? Even the bugs don't like the cool weather, I suppose. And cars have no a/c either.

  19. Linda, my biggest fear with my intense fear of birds was that one would fly in the open window. Thankfully, none did! And we must learn more about this secret of no bugs in the isle!