Silver Claddagh Ring Competition

Posted on: April 15th, 2014 by Sine Treanor No Comments

FREE TO ENTER

Silver Claddagh Ring – FREE Draw


Simply choose your method of entry, below is a list of the various methods and the amount of entries each method provides.

+4 entries if you “like” Celtic Wedding Rings on Facebook
+3 entries if you leave a comment in this blog post
+3 entries if you follow @CelticRingsIre on Twitter
+2 entries if you Tweet about the giveaway
+2 entries if you follow Celtic Wedding Rings on Pinterest
+1 entry if you pin an image of the giveaway on Pinterest

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Modern Emerald Claddagh Ring: A Twist on a Classic

Posted on: April 6th, 2014 by Jessica Hickey No Comments

The Modern Emerald Claddagh Ring is a truly elegant piece. It combines all the tradition and sentiment of the Claddagh design with a fresh, inspired and appealing look!  It is the perfect ring for a woman who loves the profound symbolism of the piece, but wants a modern twist on it.

The diamond and emeralds on this piece are beautifully set into the heart, giving a delicate and very feminine feel to the ring.

The Modern Emerald Claddagh Ring

This gorgeous handcrafted ring is 14k white gold, weighs 2g and is hallmarked in Dublin. The lightness of the piece and the size of gems used make this a beautiful, yet subtle piece! The emeralds used are a bright and vivid shade of green and the use of a single cut diamond is very tasteful.

It is appropriate as a present for practically any occasion, such as a special anniversary. Also, as emerald is considered to the birthstone for May and sometimes for astrological signs Taurus and Gemini, it would be an ideal birthday gift!

The Modern Emerald Claddagh Ring can be a great representation of your Irish heritage or simply your admiration and affinity for the “Emerald Isle”! The beauty and elegance of this ring alongside the tradition and history behind the design, makes it a superbly unique gift for a loved one or indeed yourself!

Claddagh Village, County Galway

The Claddagh ring has been around for centuries, with the first one being designed and produced for the first time in Galway around 1700. The design has definitely stood the test of time, in that the ring is as popular today as it ever was!

It is widely known that the crowned heart which is held in two clasping hands represents loyalty, love and friendship. This symbolism is probably the main reason why the ring is timeless and a perfect present for any lucky lady!

A Beautiful Love Story

The story behind the Claddagh is both tragic and romantic, if it’s actually true! Robert Joyce, an Irish fisherman is said to be the designer of the ring.

He left his home in Galway to head westwards across the Atlantic and unfortunately his ship was taken over by pirates who then sold him into slavery. But, as that old cliché “everything happens for a reason” goes; he was forced to work in a goldsmith’s workshop.

Separated from his true love back in Ireland he was inspired to design a ring that symbolised his love for her; the Claddagh.

He became a very skilled goldsmith whilst enslaved and when slavery was brought to an end in 1689, he was released and went straight back to his love, Margaret.

She had been waiting for him, as he did for her and the ring he had designed as a representation of their love had a permanent place on her finger for all her days.

How is it worn?

There are many ways to wear a Claddagh ring, and they can denote an individual’s relationship status. (Without having to snoop around on Facebook.)

- If the ring is worn on the right hand with the point of the heart facing outward , away from the body, this indicates that the person is single, looking for a relationship and has an “open heart”.

- When the ring is on the right hand with the point of the heart facing inward, toward the body, this indicates that the person is in a relationship, or “someone has captured their heart”.

- If the Claddagh Ring is worn on the left hand ring finger with the heart’s point facing away from the body, this indicates that the person is engaged.

- When the ring is on the left hand ring finger, with the point of the heart facing inward towards the body, it means that the person wearing the ring is married.

 

 

Jigs ‘n’ Reels: Irish Dancing’s Past and Future!

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Jessica Hickey No Comments

Irish dancing was given a much needed boost in popularity in 1994, when ‘Riverdance’ burst onto the scene! 20 years later, this theatrical show is still running and mesmerising audiences around the world.

I remember being a little girl, when a rerun of the “Eurovision Song Contest” came on the television. (Which is basically 6 hours of this…) The interval show of the contest I was watching was ‘Riverdance’.

Wow!! I was absolutely enthralled. So much so, that the very next week I joined a dancing class. From 1998 until I became “too cool” in 2004, I lived and breathed Irish dancing!

I couldn’t be more jealous of the Riverdancers!

Origin

Irish dancing began a very long time ago and our culture is very much influenced by it! As an example, where I’m from is a place called “Clocha Rince” which translates as “the dancing stone”. When penal laws were introduced by the English in the 1700s, Irish customs were basically all banned! The people from all the surrounding areas gathered to dance and have a ceili on this stone there, where it was possible to look out for soldiers coming from afar.

How it came to be? Well, there are only vague references to it in Irish history, but there is evidence of Druids dancing in religious rituals to worship the sun and the oak. It’s thought that some of the circular set dances we do (whilst being drunk at 21st birthday celebrations…), have roots in these pagan rituals.

When the Celts and Normans arrived in Ireland around 400AD, they brought with them their own traditions and customs, including folk dancing. The music and dance involved in Celtic ceremonies and gatherings were retained, even after Christianity had spread throughout the country.

Three dances in particular are mentioned often in 16th Century writing;  “The Irish Hey”, the “Rince Fada” (long dance) and the “Trenchmore”. The first written reference to dance is possibly in a letter to Queen Elizabeth I in 1569 from Sir Henry Sydney.  He said of dancers he saw in Galway; “They are first class dancers.”

Modern Irish Dancing

Irish dancing has come a long way since its beginnings. The commitment and skill of competitive dancers is immense! One of the reasons I gave it up was, that to get good enough to compete and place at a major “feis” , I would have had to train for 3 hours a day 6 days a week!

The money invested in dancing by dancers and dancing schools is also crazy. It’s fair to say that the “fashion show” aspect to the competitions is out of control. Little girls as young as 3 years of age wear fake tan, make up, glitter, wigs and false nails! (There is nothing remotely “Irish” about being the same color as a pumpkin!)

Here’s a price list of the items required to take part in the competitive sport;

Curled wig: $80

Dress: $600 (minimum!!)

Hard shoes: $90

Socks: $6…….

I could go on, but you get the idea!

Despite the dresses and tans and hairstyles, these dancers are extremely talented and impressive individuals. They would certainly shine, even without all the glitter!!

Tournament Dancing is huge across the US

Fancy giving it a go?

It is so much fun. Trust me! Even though I don’t compete or anything, I always get up at parties to do a jig or a hornpipe for my granny’s sake!  Set/group Irish dancing is a great way of making friends, having a laugh and getting surprisingly fit! The “Walls of Limerick” and “Kerry Polka” are my personal favourites, alongside the “Six-Hand”, which is not for those of a confused disposition!

So, ‘Riverdance’ is only the tip of the iceberg. (Or hardshoe…) Irish dancing seems to be far less popular now than it was in the 90s. This is possibly due to the pageant style look of the young girls involved being deemed as “inappropriate”.  Maybe a reminder of how it all began might help!

Do you feel that aspects of the competitive side of dancing are “over the top”?

Do you think it hurts Ireland’s reputation abroad?

St. Patrick’s Day: Isn’t everyone a little bit Irish anyway?

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by Jessica Hickey No Comments

On the 17th of March everyone is Irish! (Or claims to be anyway) Whether you’re a Murphy from Ballinamore in County Leitrim or an Anderson from Wisconsin, whose great great grandmother grew up in Lahinch Co.Clare, you’ll probably be jumping on the Paddy’s Day bandwagon in some way.

If you were asked to name three things associated with the Emerald Isle, I’m sure Guinness or simply the word “drunk” would definitely be one of them.  I can’t drink to save my life! That is correct. I am Irish and known as the “Two Drink Wonder”! (Basically because the third one doesn’t tend to go down too well and I’ll leave it at that…)

One shot, two shot, three shot…floor!

Aside from beer, there are lots of things I feel are synonymous with our little island in the Atlantic. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to reflect on a few things I love about my nation!

Writers and scholars and poets! Oh my!!

Ireland has produced some of the finest figures in literature that the world has ever seen. From Wilde to Yeats and Bram Stoker to C.S. Lewis, the contribution of our little piece of land that is over eight times smaller than Texas, is absolutely incredible!

Four Irish writers have won the Nobel Prize for literature; W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. For those of you who may not be so familiar with the work of Irish poets and writers, I highly recommend you to have a read.  (Maybe leave “Ulysses” by James Joyce to a time when you’re feeling particularly brave though!)

Natural Beauty and Remoteness

Ireland is full of natural beauty! (Myself included.) I count myself as an extremely lucky woman to have grown up in a field basically! I looked out of my  sitting room window as a child to see rolling green hills and no signs of civilization anywhere?! (My nearest shop was 8 miles away. Yes, remote indeed) I’m from the midlands, which is maybe a 4 out of 10 in the beauty stakes.

My backyard! (Well front yard… and the neighbors new fence.)

If you want to have your breath taken away, I suggest you visit pretty much anywhere along the coast. The Ring of Kerry is arguably the most beautiful place in Ireland.

An idyllic view in County Kerry

Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam” ― Pádraig Pearse (A country without a language is a country without a soul)

Unlike most other countries of the world, our first language is very seldom our own! The Gaeltacht regions of the country are the exception and these areas are few and far between. In actual fact, most of us can barely string a full and correct sentence in proper Irish together.

The teaching of the language in schools is abysmal and I could go on for an age about everything that’s wrong with it?! (Don’t worry, I won’t. You’re safe!) It is quite a beautiful language to speak and it’s a shame that it isn’t used very often. I try to get my “cúpla focail” (few words) in every day just to feel like I’m doing my bit to keep Gaeilge alive and well!

These are but a few things I love about Ireland and there are so many more wonderfully Irish things I feel very proud of. I haven’t gotten around to our Celtic music and dance (Sorry Mr. Flatley) or our love of the humble potato!

So, apart from our infamous drinking habits, what comes to mind when you think of Ireland?

Medb of Connacht: Fierce and Feisty

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 by Jessica Hickey 3 Comments

Considering that it was International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, it seems pretty fitting to take a look at some of the very powerful and interesting women of ancient Celtic mythology and legend.

In a time where women were deemed very much as “second class citizens” in most cultures and civilizations, Celtic women were doing it for themselves, and well before Aretha too! In fact, their status in society equaled men, when in Rome and Greece the very idea of women having rights would have been ludicrous!

Here’s a quick glance at one of these remarkable ladies, Queen Medb.

“Maeve” is a portrait of the warrior queen from Celtic mythology.

Queen Medb, often Anglicised as Maeve, was the epitome of an independent woman! (Sorry Beyoncé…. She got there first.) Medb was Queen of Connacht and well known for getting exactly what she desired.

Her husband King Ailill gained his status only by marrying her and she let him know too! Although married, she had many lovers and her beauty attracted the attention and adoration of a vast number of men in her troops to her so called “willing thighs”. (Quite a good technique for keeping a loyal army don’t you think?!)

Of course her husband was threatened by her…ahem… prowess, and so began a quarrel of a fairly high magnitude!

Ailill, whom she referred to as her “kept man”, detailed his assets and wealth to Medb who was absolutely appalled to discover that he was technically the ruler of their household!  His possession of a greater bull than the Queen herself was the final straw. (Cheek of him?!)

Anyway, Medb proceeded to steal a bull of greater quality for herself and the only one which she knew of belonged to the King and Queen of Ulster.  Most of you who went to primary school in Ireland would probably have heard this story referred to as “Táin Bó Culainge”. (For the non-Irish readers among you or those who didn’t pay attention to Mrs. Murphy back in 4th class, this translates as “The Cattle Raid of Cooley.”)

The outcome of which, led to Medb getting the bull (of course she did!) and matching Ailill’s wealth but lost a lot of men in the process. She remained as powerful as ever despite this and Ailill was sick of being second to his wife, so left Connacht and herself for good. No shock to hear she couldn’t have cared any less and ruled on as Queen and Celtic goddess!

Fact or Fiction?

Well, as you may know, us Irish get a bit carried away with our storytelling and love the odd hyperbole here and there. Medb is also known as the Goddess of Intoxication and the name itself actually means “intoxication” or “she who intoxicates” in English. (Of course the goddess of inebriation would be Irish…)

Supernatural powers and mysticism have always surrounded her. Some tales go that she was a woman who was so remarkably beautiful, strong and enchanting that she was raised to a goddess level of being. (Still waiting for this to happen to myself…)

Whether she was real or not, the stories about her and the power she had at a time when women of the world were majorly oppressed is truly inspiring. Maybe she isn’t the best role model ever as regards marriage and relationships, but she is an infamous and intimidating Celtic woman with gumption!

She got what she wanted because she was confident and asked for it. We as women should take a few leaves out of her book perhaps??

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