In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a reflection on one of my favorite Irish symbols – The Claddagh by Chanelle Carlin, Washington State Wedding Officiant and Your ‘Celebrant for Life’

For those who know me or have spent any time reading my website, you know that I lived in Ireland for eight years…and loved every minute of my time there. So, in honor of the month we’re in…March… and a little over a week from St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share a post today about one of my favorite Irish symbols and one that couples often ask about…the Claddagh.  Before I get to that, I thought I would reflect on Ireland for a sec. It is the one place apart from Camp Killoqua in Stanwood, Washington that ever truly felt like home. Sometime, I will share a bit more about my Irish experience and how it influences me as your Celebrant for Life. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from my time there. The first is a photo of the top of the street that I lived on when I first moved to Ireland (after staying with friends). If you look closely, there is a red brick building in the middle of the photo on the right. That was my building. I shared a flat (apartment) with two other girls. My first job in Ireland was down at the other end of the street on the left.

Dublin Street, Monaghan. The street where I first lived in Monaghan, Ireland. 

woman standing in a pink coat next to a hedge in rural ireland with gray buildings in background
Me standing along the side of a hedge in Clogher, Co. Tyrone (approx. 2010)

The Claddagh – enough about me for now…

I thought you might enjoy a little history as well as info on how to wear the Claddagh ring, plus one VERY important piece of info that you’ll want to read at the very end. 

The Claddagh is one of Ireland’s most recognized and precious images. Two hands embracing a heart adorned with a crown symbolize the purity of a cherished relationship – friendship (hands), love (heart) and loyalty (crown).  

Image by Mégane Percier from Pixabay 

Claddagh is a Place 

When we hear “Claddagh”, most of us think ring or maybe even door knocker. But Claddagh is actually a place. It’s located in County Galway on the west coast of Ireland and THE place where a fisherman-turned-goldsmith transformed his undying commitment to the woman he loved into the renowned band of gold. (More about the legend in a bit…)  

In an area once known as the Fish Market and named after the Irish word for “shore” – an Cladach, Claddagh is one of Ireland’s oldest former fishing communities. It is located in Galway city, just across the River Corrib from the Spanish and Caoċ Arches, the remaining structure of a protective wall constructed in 1584. Very little of the original village is present today due to shifts in industry, emigration, disease and war but the history and lore remains. You can find out more about Claddagh here .

Image by Snail from Pixabay

Hands, Heart & Crown 

There are many legends surrounding the original design of the Claddagh ring and most point toward Galway fisherman Richard Joyce.  In the late 17th century, Joyce was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. While in servitude, he forged a ring of gold for his true love back in Galway featuring three symbols: a heart of love, a crown of loyalty and hands of friendship.  After his release back to his village of Claddagh, he married the woman who had waited years for him to return. “With these hands I give you my heart, and I crown it with my love”. 

Image by Mégane Percier from Pixabay   

Traditionally, a Claddagh ring was passed from a mother to her daughter. Or in my case, from daughter to mother. I gave my mom a pair of Claddagh earrings when I lived in Ireland. Often a family heirloom, the symbol of love, loyalty and friendship is also commonly exchanged between friends.  

Most popular though is the wearing of a Claddagh ring as a symbol of romance. The Claddagh ring is to be worn in a specific way depending upon your relationship ‘status.’ 

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring 

Before getting married, the ring should be worn on your right hand. 

If you’re single, wear the ring with your heart facing out. This tells people you’re open to dating, i.e. that your heart is available to give to another person. The heart should point toward the end of your finger, rather than the center of your hand, and the crown should point inward. 

Once you’re dating someone and you feel committed, wear the ring with the heart facing in. This shows your heart is currently unavailable. The Claddagh should be turned around so the heart points toward the center of your hand. 

Once you are married, the ring can be moved to the left hand. For some, you can move the Claddagh ring to the left hand once you’re engaged (heart pointing out to the tip of your finger) and then turned around to have the heart pointed toward the center of your hand as part of the wedding ceremony. 

Image by Kilkenny Design 


Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for love, one thing is certain – never buy your own Claddagh ring. It must be gifted or received. It’s bad luck, and who knows more about luck than the Irish? 

Image by Alexa from Pixabay   

I hope you enjoyed this brief little post about one of my favorite Irish symbols as we get ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Do you have a favorite Irish symbol? Have you been to Ireland? I’d love to hear one of your stories. 

Thank you as well to and for much of the information gathered for this post. 

About Chanelle:  

Photo credit: Roxanne Best

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for LifeTM. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, author, gratitude coach, self-care coach and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Chanelle believes that life and love should be celebrated every minute. She collaborates with couples who’ve found “The ONE” to create custom, memorable ceremonies for their intimate wedding or elopement at Lake Chelan and throughout the naturally beautiful Pacific Northwest and celebrates all the special moments that matter in their lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA and LOVES traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest to officiate weddings. You can visit Chanelle at, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. 


An intimate family wedding at Roberts Mansion in Spokane, Washington. PC Abby Muir Photography

Reflections from your Officiant

Each wedding is so special to me and always stands out in my memory for a few reasons…first and foremost is the relationship I’ve been honored to build with the couple. After that are the truly beautiful venues and wedding teams I’m fortunate to work with and one or two memories from the day. Here are my personal reflections from this day… September 12, 2021.

Austyn and Marisa – It was always you

Austyn and Marisa are a very sweet couple that I was honored to “meet” virtually in the spring before their Autumn wedding. Their marriage was a decade in the making. During our initial zoom meeting, they told me that they had met the 2nd day of 5th grade and became fast, best friends. Many afternoons after school saw Austyn at Marisa’s house, watching TV, doing homework, playing games – just hanging out. Then, in 7th grade, they had their first “date” at Austyn’s house where they had Papa Murphy’s pepperoni pizza and watched Cake Boss with Austyn’s mom. Their young relationship continued through middle and high school, even when Marisa moved to Spokane. Although they contemplated a break-up as a couple, they couldn’t imagine not being best friends anymore, so twice a month, Austyn found himself making a long trek (sometimes via Greyhound) from the Seattle area to Spokane and home just so they could be together. Finally, when Marisa turned 18, she moved back to Seattle and graduated from high school with Austyn and their other classmates. Fast forward to 2021…living in their home in Washington, being together day to day, preparing for their life together. Who wouldn’t want to be part of their wedding day?!

Austyn and Marisa LOVE to laugh and its infectious. They are also kind and so in love with one another. Over the months of planning their ceremony, I saw multiple examples of this, but one I want to share here is so sweet. You see, Marisa had always wanted a pearl necklace so Austyn made that dream a reality on their wedding day. With the most beautiful, tender hearted note for his beloved, he gifted Marisa with a lovely strand of pearls, which Marisa wore on their wedding day.

Austyn’s tender hearted gift to his beloved. PC Abby Muir Photography

Austyn and Marisa – their day…

The day of their wedding was a gorgeous autumn day in Eastern Washington…beautiful sunshine and not too hot. The venue is an 120+ year old historic mansion located in the Brown’s Addition of Spokane, Washington and has a stunning, walled garden (back yard) perfect for weddings that need a little shade and privacy.

Roberts Mansion, Spokane, Washington. PC Abby Muir Photography.
The ceremony arbor in the walled back garden at Roberts Mansion, Spokane. PC Abby Muir Photography.

There were actually several things that stood out to me during this ceremony and because I couldn’t choose just one, I decided to include all the ones that are STILL standing out in my mind.

First Reflection

First, the incredible detail and beautiful design and decoration of this wedding. Marisa’s mom worked with Denise, the Coordinator at the Roberts Mansion to transform the event space into a beautiful, romantic, “boho” paradise. The couple had chosen gorgeous autumnal colors of forest green, rust and purple as their colors and the wedding party (and most of the guests) dressed thematically. The effect was truly beautiful.

Forest green, burnt orange and purple boho-style floral arrangement. PC Abby Muir Photography
An autumn themed, family-style banquet table designed by Marisa’s Mom. PC Abby Muir Photography.
Wedding cake with “It was always you” cake topper and autumn themed flowers. PC Abby Muir Photography.

Second Reflection

As the wedding started, the guests were seated, the groom, Austyn was in his spot waiting for his beautiful Marisa. Standing behind him, I could see and feel his nerves as well as the tears of joy as she was escorted up the aisle. Once his best friend and future wife arrived in front of him, they held hands, closed their eyes, we grounded everyone in the moment and then they were ready…they both had tears in their eyes and the very biggest of smiles. Talk about a joyful moment for everyone!

Tears and Smiles all around. PC Abby Muir Photography.

As the ceremony progressed, Marisa and Austyn shared their personal vows and exchanged rings with each other.

Austyn shares his vows with his beloved Marisa. PC Abby Muir Photography.

Third Reflection

Just as we were getting ready to pronounce them married and have them kiss, a late guest arrived and walked straight through the wedding party and up the aisle, taking center stage…

A tardy guest. PC Abby Muir Photography
Making his way through the crowd. PC Abby Muir Photography

Rather than being shocked by this, our couple thought it was brilliant! Both passionate cat lovers (with three at home), Austyn shouted, I was hoping he’d come back for the ceremony! After allowing the tardy but welcome guest to join the festivities, Austyn and Marisa were pronounced married, they kissed and were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Saunders and danced up the aisle as their family and friends stood and cheered!

The Kiss. PC Abby Muir Photography.
Mr. and Mrs. Saunders dance up the aisle. PC Abby Muir Photography

Fourth Reflection

Then…on to what is probably (to me), the most important part of a couple’s wedding ceremony…the part that makes them legally and officially married…the signing of the Marriage Certificate. Don’t get me wrong – as your Celebrant, I am all about the ceremony, the vows, the ring exchange AND the pronouncement in front of family, friends and witnesses. However, I also believe that as a couple, you are making a legal commitment to one another, so the signing of the certificate is just as important as the rest. I loved that they were both so happy to sign the ‘paperwork’. Look at that smile on Austyn’s face.

Signing the Marriage Certificate – now it’s official! PC Abby Muir Photography

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Saunders for the honor of celebrating your magical autumn wedding. It was truly a joy filled day! I wish you both (and now little Master Saunders) daily celebrations of love for a lifetime.

A quick note about the venue:

Roberts Mansion – Spokane’s Historic Bed, Breakfast & Event Center –
Located within walking distance to downtown Spokane in historic Browne’s Addition, the restored Roberts Mansion celebrates its Victorian heritage in grand style. Comfortably suited as a Bed, Breakfast and Event Center, guests can consider holding their wedding, corporate meeting, overnight stay or special occasion at the Roberts Mansion.

And the Photographer:

Abby Muir Photography –
Abby is an elopement + wedding photographer living in Spokane Washington with her husband, their dog, Blu and their baby girl, Sawyer. They love spending time in the outdoors and enjoying all the amazing views the Pacific Northwest has to offer. While Spokane is Abby’s home base, she also loves to travel and visit new places so don’t fret if you’re not close by!

Photo credit Roxanne Best

About Chanelle:
Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for LifeTM. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, author, gratitude coach, self-care coach and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC and Weddings in the Okanogan. Chanelle believes that life and love should be celebrated every minute. She collaborates with couples who’ve found “The ONE” to create custom, memorable ceremonies for their intimate wedding or elopement in the naturally beautiful Pacific Northwest and celebrates all the special milestones and Moments that Matter in their lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA and LOVES traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest to officiate wedding and celebrate all the Moments that Matter to her couples. You can visit Chanelle at, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.