The Claddagh is not only a village within Galway City but a symbol of friendship (hands), loyalty (crown) and love (heart); and the gaelic word, mhór, meaning great or big. It is in this old fishing village that the Claddagh ring originates.
The Claddagh village was once a thriving fishing village of cottages on the outskirts of Galway City. The inhabitants all spoke Gaelic and had their own customs and traditions. The Claddagh suffered hugely during the famine of the 1840s and many emigrated from the area. In the 1920s many of the cottages were deemed no longer fit for habitation as sanitation became an issue in the area. It was decided to completely knock all of the cottages and replace them with council houses in 1929. The last six cottages were demolished in 1952 to make way for the current fire station, despite efforts by some historians to preserve them. This was a dark day for the Claddagh and its identity was essentially stripped.
The Claddagh Arts Centre opened on Upper Fairhill Road in the Claddagh in 2014. At first they were a merchant of unique Irish products such as bog oak, stone and wood and although they still create and sell stunning pieces they saw further potential in the Claddagh. They obtained planning permission for an authentic thatched cottage on their premises in November 2015.
Since then it has been a whirlwind! Four months later “Katie’s Claddagh Cottage” opened to a huge crowd as Galway’s newest tourist attraction.
The cottage is a museum with every last detail from the open fire to the sash windows and half door as it was 200 years ago. The cottage is open each day to the public and will host storytelling evenings, classes, workshops and local events. There is a specific emphasis on charity events in the centre and the owners hope to work closely with local suicide awareness charities along with others. Each guest will get a cup of tea/coffee and a homemade scone baked above the open fire and will be able to view maps and records to see if they may be descended from the Claddagh people.
They can even host functions of up to about 80 people on request! What a stunning place for wedding photos with the roses winding up the handmade trellises out front and the flowers blooming outside the sash windows.
The Claddagh Arts Centre is open behind the cottage where stunning gifts may be bought, none of your leprechauns and souvenirs that every other tourist shop stocks. The Claddagh ring is also being sold in the Claddagh itself for the first time ever.