What says green more than the Emerald Isle itself, Ireland. I am Irish on my mother's side and on a visit back in 2002 she and I started designing this piece together.
It is based on a 500 year old romantic Irish lore from the ancient fishing village of Claddagh just outside the walls of the City of Galway on the west coast of Ireland.
A fishing boat from the village of Claddagh was captured by Algerian pirates and the crew was sold into slavery. One of the crew was a young man by the name of Richard Joyce who was to be married the same week he was captured. Instead, Richard found himself far away from his love and his homeland.
He was sold to a wealthy Moorish goldsmith who taught him the trade and, eventually, he became skilled enough to design a ring of special significance: the hands were for friendship, the crown was for loyalty, and the heart was for love.
Years went by, but Richard never forgot his sweetheart. When he was finally released, his master asked him to stay and offered him riches and the hand of his only daughter in marriage. But Richard Joyce declined, eager to return to his Irish love. With much trepidation he returned to Galway to find that the girl he had been due to marry so many years before had herself never married. They were wed immediately and their wedding band was the Claddagh ring he had designed and made for her.
By tradition the ring is taken to signify the wish that love and friendship should reign supreme. The hands signify friendship, the crown loyalty, and the heart love. Often representing the sole major investment of a fishing family, they have been traditionally handed down from mother to daughter. Today, the ring is worn extensively across Ireland, either on the right hand with the heart turned outwards showing that the wearer is "fancy free" or with the heart turned inwards to denote that he or she is "spoken for." The pride of place is on the left hand, with the heart turned in, indicating that the wearer is happily married and the love and friendship will last forever, the two never separated.
But one word of caution: it is said to be very bad luck for a person to purchase a Claddagh ring for themselves. It must be given or received as a gift.
I was once told that it was tradition to receive the ring from your grandmother and I proudly wear my grandmother's claddagh today.
My quilt pattern can be found in my etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/listing/68715701/claddagh-quilt-pattern
This is another color way and you can read more about how I have played with this design in an older post: http://nestlingsbyrobin.blogspot.com/2010/03/new-takes-on-old-favorites.html
If you are a quilter or know one, you can find more of my patterns on my website: http://www.nestlingsbyrobin.com/
If you are not a quilter but would love to own one of these designs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my contract for commissioned work.
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