The Claddagh - A Place Apart

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  • Aspects of Galway City and County

Claddagh Village

The area known as the Claddagh lies at the point where the River Corrib flows into Galway Bay. Traditionally a fishing village apart from the town of Galway, it is now difficult to see where the city ends and the Claddagh begins.

Because the Claddagh lay beyond the town's walls for so many years, it developed its own distinct culture.

Irish was the language of the Claddagh. Villagers lived in thatched cottages which were replaced by a housing scheme in the 1930s. A king was elected from amongst the people. This tradition continues to this day.

Galway Hooker
Courtesy of Joss Lynam collection

The main industry in the Claddagh was fishing. A fleet of small boats sailed out into the bay and brought back a catch of mackeral and herrings. Before the Great Famine, the fleet was more than a hundred strong. The small boats, known as Galway hookers, are now recogniszed as a symbol of Galway. They were also used by other fishing communities in Galway bay.


The Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring also has its origins in this part of Galway. It is very popular with Irish people, especially those living abroad. Tradition has it that the ring was handed down to the next generation as a wedding ring.

The ring shows two hands holding a heart which wears a crown. It symbolises faith, love and honour.

The Claddagh in the early 1900s

Stephen Gwynn was an Irish journalist, author and politician. In 1909 his book 'A Holiday in Connemara' was published. In it he describes the people of the Claddagh. Click here to read an extract from his book.