In 1675 he left Galway to serve as an indentured servant in the West Indies but his ship was intercepted by pirates from Algeria who enslaved the entire crew. Joyce became the slave of a man in Tangiers, said to be a goldsmith, who made him his apprentice.
In 1689 William III became King of England and enforced a request upon the Algerians to release all of his subjects enslaved in the country. Joyce’s master offered him half the business and his daughter’s hand in marriage if he stayed, but he refused and returned to Galway. There, he is said to have created the original Claddagh ring. Examples of his work from the time of his release to 1737 are still extant. He settled near Rahoon, then outside the town, married and had issue.
Joyce’s role in the creation of the ring are somewhat debatable, in that goldsmiths such as Richard Joyce (fl. 1648) and Dominick Martin (died 1676) were already operating in Galway. However, his designs seem to have been the most popular at the time, and perhaps the basis of the present design, so he can be credited as its creator.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (December 2009)|
- The mis-titled ‘Joyce’ tomb in the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway, James Mitchell, vol. 40, 1985–1986
- Galway Goldsmiths:Their mark and ware, Jack Mulveen, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, vol. 46, 1994
- The Tribes of Galway, Adrian James Martyn, Galway, 2001
- Greenspeak: Ireland in Her Own Words, Paddy Sammon, 2002, Town House Press. ISBN 1-86059-144-2
- Claddagh Ring – Richard Joyce Montana Tech University
- “Claddagh Ring” in The Concise Oxford Dictionary, ed. Judy Pearsall, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Claddagh: The Tale of the RingPatricia McAdoo, with illustrations by James Newell, 2005