Irish Coat Of Arms Symbols

04 June 2013

Irish Coat Of Arms Symbols

The Irish family crest is a heraldic creation utilized by members of a family to show their pride in their clan and family heritage. Coats of arms were part of Norman and northern European culture and did not become very popular among Irish families until after the English invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. Family crests are analogous to modern day gang colors and showed you belonged to a certain clan or region. They were also employed in combat to tell friends from foes, to act as a rallying point and a symbol of what they were fighting for.

The coat of arms was usually worn on a tunic or on the breast of a suit of armor. It also was maintained and displayed on banners and pendants. In battle it was very often painted onto a warriors shield. These coat of arms were filled with symbolism and meaning and sometimes showed ties between families. Three reoccurring insignias found on Irish family crests are the red hand, the stag walking, and the wild boar.

Although its root beginnings go all the way back to pagan times “The Red Hand of Ulster” in Gaelic L’mh Dhearg Uladh, is in most cases linked to the O’Neil clan and is sometimes referred to as the “Hand of O’Neil”. The O’Neal’s are one of the oldest families in Ireland and claim ancestory to a grandson of Niall Glun Dubh a 10th century King of Ireland and thru him to visit more information Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary 4th century high king. It was utilised by the O’Neils in the nine year war and their battle cry was “L’mh Dhearg Ab!”, meaning “red hand to victory.” Its oldest use on a family crest dates back to 1243 when Walter de Burgh became Earl of Ulster and applied it to his family crest. It may also be observed on the flag of Northern Ireland together with the shields of counties Cavan, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim and Monaghan. Other families that use the red hand on their crest are Branagan, Brennan, Byrne, Cullen, Daly, Daugherty, Fox, Guinness, McNeil, Neal or O’Neal, Riley, Reilly or O’Reilly.

The stepping stag is a symbol of stable political power and is generally related to the McCarthy clan. The McCarthy’s were one of the most influential families of southern Ireland and trace their ancestry to Carthach, a 11th century E’ganacht Chaisil king and contempary of Brian Boru High King of Ireland. His son Muireadhach styled himself Mac Cartaigh meaning son of Carthach and his sons embraced the surname Mac Carthy. The Mac Carthy’s were allied to a number of families of southern Ireland and fought regularly with their Norman neighbors the Fitzgerald’s and Butler’s. A few selected other families that feature the stepping stag are Daugherty, Green, McConnell or O’Connell and Rogers.

The wild boar is a symbolic representation of steadfastness, courage and a readiness to battle to the death. As opposed to the boars head which signifies hospitality. The Sullivan’s or O’Sulliavan’s, Gaelic Ua S’ileabh’in, are yet another ancient Irish clan. Their crest features two wild boars on a black and white quartered field. The O’Sullivan center of authority was in County Tipperary but they were also plentiful in Cork and Munster. They claim decent from Fedelmid mac Crimthainn a 9th century King of Munster. Other families that use the wild boar image are Cassidy, McCann, and Sweeny.

The emblems Irish heraldry are very diverse including wild and mythical animals, weaponry, and heraldic designs, these are only a handful which happen to be noticeably Irish. If you have Irish ancestors the’re a great many good publications available that will help an armature genealogist investigate their coat of arms.

This article was written by Wm M. Martin, lead designer at Name Game Shop my hobby site where you can buy shirts, mugs, tote bags and more with your Irish Coat of Arms and either designs featuring your Irish surname.

This article was written by Wm M. Martin, lead designer at my hobby site where you can buy shirts, mugs, tote bags and more with your Irish Coat of Arms and either designs featuring your Irish surname.

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