Claddagh is a word that comes from the Irish word for “shore,” and refers to a small fishing village that invented the Claddagh ring.
The Claddagh ring is still used today for romantic relationships as well as friendships and is comprised of two hands clasping a heart with a crown on top.
People found eventually that the Claddagh makes for a great tattoo, too.
Let’s take a look at the symbolism behind Claddagh tattoos:
What do Claddagh Tattoos Mean?
Claddagh tattoos symbolize honor, love, and loyalty.
They can be received in honor of someone you love or as a symbol of friendship between two best friends.
The pieces of the Claddagh tattoo symbolize different things: the heart of the Claddagh represents love, while the crown is a symbol of loyalty.
The tattoo is typically received with someone specific in mind since traditionally the ring was shared between two people who have a powerful connection to one another.
Let’s take a look at what some specific Claddagh tattoos symbolize:
Claddagh Tattoos Paired With Celtic Tattoo Symbols
Many times, Claddagh tattoos are emphasized by adding a Celtic tattoo symbol to the design.
This serves to add the meaning of Irish heritage to the tattoo, as well as add that Celtic symbol’s meaning to the mix.
Let’s check out some of these tattoos below:
- Claddagh with Celtic Cross Tattoos
The Celtic cross tattoo is a symbol of the Christian God and his love for all of mankind.
The four directions of the cross symbolize four major elements in nature such as the seasons, and can also be a symbol of the four directions or the four corners of the Earth.
It is seen too as a mystical and magical symbol.
Added with the Claddagh tattoo, this tattoo becomes a symbol of love and loyalty towards God.
If you love God with all of your heart, then you may want to get this tattoo as a dedication to your religion.
This tattoo also proves your loyalty to him.
All in all, this is a highly religious tattoo that should not be received lightly.
- Claddagh with Triquetra Tattoos
For the Irish, the triquetra tattoo is a strong symbol of Christianity.
It represents the three parts of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Together with the Claddagh, this tattoo represents a powerful faith in the Christian religion.
This tattoo represents loyalty towards all parts of the Holy Trinity, and love towards it as well.
If you have this tattoo, it means undoubtedly that you are highly religious.
- Claddagh with Shamrock Tattoos
Sometimes, the Claddagh is supplemented by the addition of a shamrock in the tattoo.
Since shamrock tattoos are often a symbol of Irish heritage, this tattoo represents a love for Irish culture and a celebration of it.
This tattoo also represents a sense of loyalty and love to Irish culture and to your heritage.
Claddagh Tattoo Designs
There are many other types of Claddagh designs that you may possibly want to learn more about.
If you are making a decision about which Claddagh design you want a tattoo of, then here are some options for you to choose from along with their meanings:
- Claddagh Ring Tattoos
Sometimes, Claddagh tattoos are shown as the actual Claddagh ring in tattoo form.
In many cases, instead of getting a ring for your partner or friend, you both may receive a tattoo of the Claddagh ring.
This more permanent display of affection is simply a different way of making that promise to one another.
If this is not a matching tattoo for you, the Claddagh ring tattoo can still be a symbol of love and devotion.
- Realistic Claddagh Tattoos
Although most Claddagh tattoos are in black ink and are highly decorative, some Claddagh tattoos use realistic hands and a colorful heart and crown.
These tattoos represent loyalty, honor, and a strong love for your family and friends.
In Conclusion: Color or No Color?
One key question you must ask when deciding upon a Claddagh tattoo is whether or not you want to use color.
The heart of the Claddagh can look bold and loving when it is done in bright red, yet the entire tattoo has a completely different feel when it is in color.
The more colorful Claddagh tattoos tend to signify love more than loyalty.
There’s something about a black-inked tattoo that is more serious and more traditional.
Therefore, if you are looking for a more traditional Claddagh tattoo, perhaps go for the black and grey tattoo style.
But if you want to mix things up, why not add some color!
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Alyssa Renee McCormack is a writer, curator, and photographer who publishes articles on the topics of the arts, culture, and social justice. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion business and art history and museum professions. Her experience working with a variety of art institutions, her world travel, and her inquisitive nature provides her with a unique insight. Check out her about page, she would love to connect with you!