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June 18, 2002

Go ahead, tell us what you really think
Posted by Teresa at 01:12 PM *

The Claddagh Ring……The Rest of the Story is a splendidly loony page devoted to denouncing and vilifying (and Bauchling and Reproaching) the traditional Irish heart-crown-and-hands ring. Its technically simple yet spirited graphic design is butt-ugly, in a strikingly original way. This is the first time I’ve seen column width used to indicate emphasis. But if anyone needs more ways to indicate emphasis (having already run through italics, boldface, centering, and variable type size and color), it’s the author of this page.

It seems a shame to quote such expressive text in this drab context, but I’m shameless:

Now…let us tell you about this tragic design…

The design originated in the small,quiet and somewhat ordinary vilage of Claddagh on the shores of Galway Bay in Ireland. The locals still remember the day when the combined armies of both England and Ireland uniting for the first and only time in history came to the town and completely destroyed it- leaving not a trace….all because….the design which had so infected the world with its terrible powers had originated there. Alas… not fully understanding, the dynamics of Material Culture-

All was in vain and the design is still with us today with thousands falling to its addiction daily. Many of Irish descent worship this mystical design and can not have any other pattern or design on any object-large-or-small. From doormats to dustbins it is literally everywhere. It rages like a computer virus blocking out all other images. If left unchecked it is feared that it will blot out all other designs and images in the world. Whole art galleries will become empty of all but artworks portraying the design. We here at the Official Claddagh web site are not striking out at the design we are attacking the root cause-the addiction itself.

The site tells three different stories of the Cladagh’s origin, all scurrilous to one degree or another, and helpfully passes on the information that the European Community has classified the Claddagh as an environmental hazard, and that the Republic of Ireland is considering gathering Claddagh-marked objects and using them to fill in Galway Bay.
Comments on Go ahead, tell us what you really think:
#1 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 03:51 PM:

"When out on the lawn there arose such a claddagh
I sprang from my bed to see what was the maddagh."

Did you know that "Claddagh" is an anagram of "glad Chad"? Coincidence? Perhaps.

#2 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 07:57 PM:

Hmm. I'm amused and bemused. I wonder why the hostility? Speaking as someone who is Irish, I always took it as something common and harmless. I had no idea it provokes so much ire...



#3 ::: Mary Kay Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 08:58 PM:

Well, part of my ethnicity is Irish and I love Ireland more than any place on earth (going back in Oct. I think) and I have to say I agree with the writer of the page. I think the hostility is provoked by the fact that it is, as Teresa says, butt-ugly. And as the writer of the page tells us, it ends up *everywhere*. To have such an ugly thing be so omnipresent and come, in the minds of many, to represent Ireland, is, well, hostility making.

I'll have some nice knotwork, thank you very much.

#4 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 09:14 PM:

Um, I think Teresa was saying that the Web site was butt-ugly. Claddaghs aren't ugly "in a strikingly original way," nor do they use column width for emphasis.

Don't most people think of shamrocks first? I mean, look a' the Aer Lingus logo.

Personally I think Claddaghs are cheesy, due to heavy-handed symbolism (clonk! Ow, I've been hit on the head with a Thematic Element!), but butt-ugly? Naw. Not interesting enough for that. Besides, it's been popular for a long time...I guess h.h.s. sells, eh?

Or as my friend David likes to say, usually when watching a Z movie in fascinated horror, "Behold the power of cheese!"

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 11:25 PM:

I meant the page was butt-ugly. Claddagh rings are so traditional that I've never thought of them as being in the same design universe as art metalwork. They belong with Joan the Wad, American eagle tattoos, bikers' skull-faced silver rings with ruby eyes, dashboard statues of Jesus, and the "nightfall" presentation at Roadside America: numinous folk art, and as such outside most normal standards of judgement.

While the page is in fact butt-ugly, I have to admit I kind of like it. If there's such a thing as primitivist outsider art web design, that page is it.

As for the hostility, my insupportable blue-sky guess is that the person who created that page is an artist who's gotten tired of watching claddagh-decorated tat outsell everything else in the crafts market, including original work of superior quality.

You hear these rants from artists who work in the front-line trenches. Where I grew up, the equivalent emblem was roadrunners. Tourists loved them. If you made three of some craft object, one with a roadrunner and the other two decorated with any other design under the sun, the roadrunner piece is that one that would sell.

Moralists and goody-two-shoes reformers fret when people display a taste for art they think is bad. What drives artists crazy is watching people pass up good work to buy the bad.

#6 ::: Mary Kay Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 08:48 PM:

Hmm. At first, I too thought she meant the page was butt-ugly, then my distaste for the claddagh convinced me she meant that. Ah well. Not the first time I've been wrong. And I have never bought anything with either a claddagh or a roadrunner.


#7 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2002, 07:46 AM:

You mean like my parents' sand art painting of a roadrunner, purchased, well, somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona, don't you? I can tell.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2002, 02:50 PM:

I'm sure theirs is an especially nice one.

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