Irish Heraldry

Flag IrishEarly Heraldry
 Although the development of Irish heraldry is rightly attributed to the Normans – strongly influenced by their Scandinavian heritage – there is considerable evidence that a rudimentary form of heraldry existed in Ireland before the arrival of the Normans, possibly due in part to the cultural contribution from earlier Viking settlers. It is certain that the early Irish held certain symbols sacred as a result of pre-Christian religions and ancient mythology. These totems gradually became associated with specific regions, and formed the basis of tribal emblems with deeply personal significance to tribal members. In the context of practical heraldry, which is essentially the means of readily identifying similarly armoured combatants, it should be borne in mind that the majority of medieval Irish soldiers fought with little or no formal armour.
Flag IrishIrish Kern The Irish Kern (lightly armed infantryman) typically wore a linen tunic, carried a large (small rKern Irishound shield) strapped to the defensive elbow and fought with a short stabbing lance or sword. Chain mail was initially only worn by foreign mercenaries known as Gallowglasses (usually Scottish) who wore a steel plate helmet – normally an open cap rather than a fully enclosed bassinet – and wielded the cliomh mór.
Flag IrishKern Sword Sometimes he had a huge two-handed sword which tended to preclude the use of a shield. As a consequence of the medieval Irish predisposition to eschew formal armour, it was common for the heraldic emblems to be displayed on banners at rallying points. However, the conventional form of display on shields is not considered to be a cultural compromise.
 Strictly speaking, coats of arms are granted to individuals and their direct descendants. They are not awarded to unrelated groups of people sharing similar surnames. However, it is becoming increasingly popular for people to display so-called family arms in a variety of domestic situations (heraldic displays in their homes, on their stationery, websites etc.) and there is no real harm in this practice as long as the lawful grantee is tacitly acknowledged. Indeed, some armigerous individuals would not be averse to sharing the use of their arms with unrelated individuals, since it promotes an aspect of family history which is an important part of our heritage.

Flag IrishTowey Coat of Arms  A coat of arms is a heraldic design on an shield (escutcheon) plus a slogan, crest, supporters and motto.  It is traditionally unique to a sept (family), organization or noble person.

Flag Irish

Elements of Our Towey Coat of Arms

  • Slogan – a word, mark or sign to signify a relationship or idea.  Hence our “Towey” name.
  • Crest  – a boars head is shown. Signifies bravery and hospitality. The Crest might be an animal, bird, sea creature, other item.
  • Helmet  – traditional adornment that rarely defines its profession
  • Field – the whole surface of the shield (escutcheon) which is divided into multiple sections.
  • Escutcheon (the shield)  shown elements are:

* Lion passant – denotes dauntless courage. Colors are Or and Argent.  Passant means walking with three paws on the ground and a forepaw raised.  Head is looking forward with tail curved over its back.
* Ordinaries  – an Or ships wheel on the Dexter side, symbolizes fortune or cycle of life.
* Pile  – a downward pointing Or triangle, with a red Cross standing for faith, Christianity.
* Charges – the sheaf of wheat on Sinister side denotes harvest of one’s hope.
* Colors
— or = gold.- denotes generosity
— gules = red – Arabic gul, a red rose signifies strength and fairness
— argent = silver – usually represented as white which stands for peace and sincerity
— azure = blue – from Arabic lazura represents truth and loyalty

  • Supporters – objects usually placed on either side of the shield and depict holding it up.
  • Motto  – wording such as our motto “UBIQUE” (Everywhere)

To view extensive heraldic facts, you might like to look at Coat of Arms