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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Cynthia Owens

There are so many myths and legends springing from the misty, romantic island of Ireland I can’t even count them. Some of my favorites include Finn MacCool and the Fianna, Oisin and the Land of the Ever Young, and the Children of Lir.

But my absolute favorite Irish story is the legend of the Claddagh Ring, Ireland’s unique symbol of friendship, loyalty and love.

The Claddagh ring dates back centuries to the small Galway fishing village of Claddagh. The word “Claddagh” comes from the Irish term An Cladach, meaning a flat, stony shore.

Richard Joyce, a native of the village, was captured by Algerians and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. When William III of England demanded the release of all British subjects, Joyce, too, was released. The Moorish goldsmith offered Joyce a major portion of his wealth and his daughter in marriage, if Joyce would stay on in Algiers. Joyce refused the tempting offer and returned to the village of Claddagh. It was there he turned his skills to the creation of an emblem of love, friendship and loyalty: two hands (friendship) cradling a heart (love) topped by a crown (loyalty).

Wear the ring on the right hand, the crown turned inwards, and let the world know your heart is free. On the right hand, the crown turned outwards, and it’s clear love is being considered. But when it’s worn on the left hand, the crown turned outward, two loves have become inseparable.

In my novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, the “prequel” to Coming Home, Rory O’Brien presents Siobhán Desmond with a Claddagh ring at their wedding:

When it came time for the ring, Rory’s voice echoed in her head, deep and loving. “Siobhán take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

It was then that she looked down at her finger, where Michael’s simple ring had rested until just that morning. In its place, Rory was sliding on a delicate scrap of silver. A design of two hands joined together to support a single heart, topped by a crown, symbolizing friendship, love and loyalty.

“Let love and friendship reign,” Siobhán murmured, touching the ring reverently as she quoted its motto.

I cherish my own Claddagh ring, given me by my husband as a birthday gift several years ago, as much as Siobhán.


Pearl said...

Love this Cynthia! I too treasure my Claddagh ring and wear it on my left hand facing outwards.

I bought the Kindle version of 'In Sunshine or in Shadow' and am about half way through.
Like slipping into a warm bath, it's so easy to melt into and become immersed, in the passion, the history and the drama!

Simply wonderful!

Cynthia Owens said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Pearl! I'm so pleased you're enjoying "In Sunshine or in Shadow." I hope you'll take a chance on "Coming Home" when it's released as well. Thanks for dropping by!

Unknown said...

This is a lovely article. I've spent many happy days exploring Galway, both the city and environs (anyone considering a visit has got to try the fish and chips at McDonagh's). Sadly, Kenny's Bookshop is no longer in Galway City, but there are wondrous artisan shops and sights to see.

My husband and I also have Claddagh wedding bands.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Suzanne, glad you enjoyed my post! I spent a lovely day in Galway City in July of 2009, and I hope to go back again soon (counting those pennies!). Thanks for visiting!

Lady Boru said...

I had heard the story of the Claddagh before. I have a Claddagh I wear around my neck and I have a Claddagh ring as well. I always feel that Irish pride when I look at the Claddagh. It is so nice that you added the Claddagh to your book.

Renee Vincent said...

I wear a Claddagh ring and it's very special to me, given by a dear friend of mine who lives far away. I treasure it because it was given to me by him, but also because of my passion for Ireland.

Great post!

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Lady Boru, thanks for visiting! I'm not sure if I consciously added the Claddagh to my story, or if it just had to be written that way. Whatever, I think the historical (and romantic!) significance makes it a better story.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Renee, I know what you mean about being passionate about Ireland. I fell in love with all things Irish when I was 15, and it's a love affair that never ended. Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

Both Ireland and Scotland have such rich histories, I love learning about them. My husband and I have ancestors from both places. I hope to visit someday, if I can drag my husband on to a plane! Thanks for sharing, it was really interesting!

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Laura, I've never been to Scotland, but I can guarantee you'll love Ireland. The only part of my Irish vacation I didn't like was going home! Thanks for visiting!

Michelle Muse said...

Just beautiful! Sounds like a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. :)

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Michelle, the Claddagh story is one of my favorites. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for stopping by!

Julie LaLonde Robinson said...

Congratulations on being the start of the week! I see I have some catch-up reading to do. i hope one day to have a Claddagh ring because of the beautiful story behind it.

Julie LaLonde Robinson said...

Oh, no need to enter me in the contest, as I already have a copy of "In Sunshine or in Shadow."

Cynthia Owens said...

Thanks, Julie! Ireland has so many stories and legends it's hard to find a favorite, but the Claddagh is definitely mine! Thanks for visiting!