This site is a mirror of the original site, made in 2022 by Heraldry of the World. The original site is unaltered. This mirror functions as an archive to keep the material available on-line.
All rights remain with the late Hubert de Vries, the original site owner.




Early Symbols

The Three Crowns

The Sitting King

The Stag Arms and Crest

The Harp Badge and Arms

Freestate and Republic


Police and Armed Forces



I. The Harp of Brian Boru

II. The Confederation of Kilkenny (1642-1649)

III. The Society of United Irishmen (1791-1803 ca)

IV. The Irish Crown Jewels.





Early Symbols


Irish High Kings

Early Irish kingship was sacral in character. In the early narrative literature a king is a king because he marries the sovereignty goddess (Medbh), is free from blemish, enforces symbolic buada (prerogatives) and avoids symbolic geasa (taboos). According to the seventh and eighth century law tracts a hierarchy of kingship and clientship progressed from the (king of a single petty kingdom) through the ruiri (a who was overking of several petty kingdoms) to a rí ruirech (a who was a provincial overking). Each king ruled directly only within the bounds of his own petty kingdom and was responsible for ensuring good government by exercising fír flaithemon (rulers truth), convening its óenach (popular assembly), raising taxes, public works, external relations, defence, emergency legislation, law enforcement and promulgating legal judgement.


Early Christian Kings

Even at the time the law tracts were being written these petty kingdoms were being swept away by newly emerging dynasties of dynamic overkings. The most successful of these early dynasties were the Uí Néill who as kings of Tara had been conquering petty kingdoms, expelling their rulers and agglomerating their territories under the direct rule of their expanding kindred since the fifth century. Native and foreign, pagan and Christian ideas were comingled to form a new idea of Irish kingship. The native idea of a sacred kingship was integrated with the Christian idea in the ceremony of coronation, the relationship of king to overking became one of tigerna (lord) to king and imperium (sovereignty) began to merge with dominium (ownership). The church was well disposed to the idea of a strong political authority. Its clerics developed the theory of a high kingship of Ireland and wrote tracts exhorting kings to rule rather than reign. In return the paruchiae (monastic federations) of the Irish church received royal patronage in the form of shrines, building works, land and protection. The concept of a high king was occasionally recorded in various annals, such as an entry regarding the death of Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid in 862 in the Annals of Ulster which lists him as rí Érenn uile (king of all Ireland), a title which his successor, Aed Finliath apparently never was granted. It is unclear what political reality was behind this title. (Wikipedia)


Construction of the Celtic- or Ringed Cross: A Latin cross charged with a Greek cross makes a double  cross. A double cross charged with a corona makes a ringed cross. The corona can safely be considered the symbol of the (Roman) Empire.


The most striking monuments of Ireland are certainly the stone crosses, called High Crosses which we can find on many places on the island. [1]  The crosses are roughly of three different kinds. The first consists of a decorated and  integrated latin and greek cross. This kind of cross probably is the eldest form of the high cross.

The second is a socalled ringed cross and this cross consists of a latin cross charged with a greek cross the junction supported by a ring or corona. Crosses of this kind are inspired by the cross of  Emperor Justin II (565-587) and Empress Sophia that was send to Pope John III (561-574). These crosses symbolize the sovereignty of the Eastern Roman Empire in Ireland. After the foundation of the Western Empire in 800, these crosses symbolize the sovereignty of the Church of Rome in Ireland. 

Crosses of the third kind are also inspired on the cross of Justin II but they are covered with a program of images of which the image of Christ on one side and the image of the High King on the other side are the main features.  On the side with the image of Christ are depicted biblical scenes but on the side of the High King are depicted scenes symbolizing the institutions of government, including the parliament, the judicial power and the army. No Emperor or Pope are depicted as one would expect, because these dressed completely different.  As such these crosses symbolize the sovereignty or autonomy of the High King in Ireland.


The greater autonomy of the High Kings illustrated by these crosses, may be explained by the quarrel of te Irish Church and the Church of Rome about some ecclesiastical dogma’s. This quarrel was the main reason for the bull Laudabiliter in which Pope Adrian invited king Henry II of England to reconquer Ireland for the Church of Rome and restore order in matters of the faith.

As a consequence these crosses are not younger than the end of the twelfth century, when Ireland was reorganized by Henry II and the institution of High King, for having been propagated by the Irish Church, came to an end.


Irish Crosses 1. Cross of Kilbrony (Down); 2. Cross of Ahenny (Tipperary), 8th C.; 3. Cross of Clonmacnoise (Offaly), face. 9th - 10th C.


* The Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise, was commissioned by Máel Sechnaill's son Flann Sinna and erected in 901. Simpler crosses were erected by Máel Sechnaill, including the south cross at Clonmacnoise and those at Kinnitty and Killamery by Kilkenny.


The Royal Image

The ringed crosses of the third kind are the more interesting because they give us, though often very weathered, an impression of how the Irish High Kings were dressed and of the regalia they used to bear. A very good but unique picture of such a king, that matches very well with the sculptures of the kings on the High Crosses, is given in the socalled Lichfield Gospels. These have been dated at the beginning of the 8th century and so it is possible that the king depicted is  Flaithbertach (r. 728-734 (723-729) † 765). [2]


*  The dating of the manuscript is uncertain but fixed on about 730. On page 218 is a picture of a man, usually determined as St. Luke because of the winged bull depicted above his head. However, the person depicted is sitting on a (lion’s) throne and has two sceptres in his hands. [3] Behind his head is a corona which makes him a prince of the Empire. This makes it very improbable that St Luke is depicted because this evangelist is never bearing royal paraphernalia. Of the sceptres our man is holding, the golden cross charged with a corona  may symbolize his spiritual power (in Ireland). The other sceptre, consisting of a thunderbolt, may symbolize his temporal power.  Matching the figure with the figures on the 9th/10 century High Crosses points at the image of a king and for this king Flaithbertach  may be a possibility. [4] In his time the bishop of Armagh was Suibne nepos MruichessaichI (r. 715- † 730) and this prelate may be depicted on page 142 of the same manuscript.



St. Luke, alias Flaithbertach, Highking of Ireland,  in the Lichfield Gospels, p. 218.[5]

We may suppose that the sceptre in his left hand symbolizes his spiritual power over Ireland or his own kingdom. The sceptre in his right hand may symbolize a thunderbolt and thus his temporal power. It is not certain who is actually portrayed.




Four Irish Kings 1. Clonmacnoise 901: Flann Sinna (879-926) above his head an eagle; 2. Monasterboice: Possibly Donnchad Donn (919-956), son of Flann Sinna, above his head an eagle; 3. Kells, above his head a deer, below his feet an eagle; 4. Durrow, above his head a lion (?)


Feudal Symbols


Cormac Mac Cárthaigh (†1138) was a Gaelic Irish ruler who served as King of Munster. A member of the Mac Cárthaigh clan of the Eóganacht Chaisil, he was the final king of the unified Kingdom of Munster before the realm was divided into the Kingdom of Desmond and Kingdom of Thomond in the aftermath of the Treaty of Glanmire.


In 1127 Cormac MacCarthy, King of Desmond, erected close to his palace on the "Rock" (of Cashel) a church, now known as Cormac's Chapel, which was consecrated in 1134, when a synod was held within its walls.


Cashel north doorway tympan

Lioness and Centaur



In the tympan are the sculptures of a lioness-with-a-cub and a centaur with a bow wich may be referring to Cormac and his main enemy Richard de Clare, a representative of the english invaders of a bad reputation. Indeed a centaur is a ferocious barbarian being half horse and half man as was, for example Richard de Clare nicknamed Strongbow. [6]

An other possibility is the corps of sagittaries of Cormac.




All Irish heraldry seems to be of British origin and we may doubt if the Irish ever contributed to it. Even the establishment of the institue of King of Arms of Ireland in 1392 existing until 1485, and of Ulster’s Office established in 1552, does not change the fact that Irish Heraldry was mainly a British business.

            The first coat of arms in Ireland was the coat of arms of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke. He bore:  Or, six chevrons Gules. [7]

            After him the Lords and Kings of Ireland bore the personal arms of the Kings of England, beginning with John Lackland and ending with King George VI in 1949. A blason for Ireland was introduced in these arms only in 1603.

            Heraldry of the main British officers in Ireland was introduced in the beginning of the thirteenth century, starting wit the arms of  Richard de Burgh († 1243) Justiciar of Ireland 1228-1232, who bore: Per pale gules and or, a bordure vert. [8]


From the middle of the thirteenth century there appeared a few different coats of arms in relation to Ireland, be it called arms of the King of Ireland or the arms of Ireland itself.

            In order of appearance these arms are:


1. A coat of arms with a harp.

2. A coat of arms with three crowns

3. A coat of arms with a sitting king

4. A coat of arms with a stag and a tower


For the sake of continuity the coat of arms with the harp will be discussed in the last section of this article.


The Arms with the Crowns.



The arms of Robert de Vere


1487 Groat, Geraldine issue [9]


Three crowns coat of arms on the design for a seal for Ireland of Queen Elizabeth I, ca. 1584.

(reconstruction after Nicholas Hilliard)


A manuscript from the beginning of the 17th century notices that “In ye time of Edward ye IVth a commission being to enquire the arms of Ireland it was returned yt ye 3 crownes were the armes”. [10] Indeed, three crowns in relation to Ireland appear for the first time in the coat of arms of Robert the Vere a favourite of King Richard II who was made a Duke of Ireland in 1386. In the Letters Patent of the 3rd of January of that year, by which Robert de Vere was permitted to quarter his personal arms with a blason with three crowns ´for the term of his office´ this blason is described  as  arma de azuro cum tribus coronis aureis et una circumferentia vel bordura de argento”.  (Azure, three crowns Or 2 and 1 and a bordure Argent) [11]. This coat of arms became obsolete when Robert de Vere took his flight in 1387 to escape arrestation and the title of Duke of Ireland was abolished the next year. Of the arms only one example is known. It is on a tile found in Essex. [12]

            A second example of three crowns in relation to Ireland can be found on one groat-coins, minted in 1487 in the reign of Garret More FitzGerald, 8th  Earl of Kildare and lord lieutenant of Ireland from 1477 tot 1513. In correspondence with the notice of the commission from the time of Edward IV, there are three crowns, one above the other, on the reverse. On the obverse are the royal arms between the arms of the FitzGeralds of Kildare, then “Sable, a saltire Or”.


A real coat of arms with three crowns is on the design of  Nicholas Hilliard. for a seal for Ireland of Queen Elizabeth I, from about 1584 or earlier. On this design the Queen is sitting between a coat of arm with a harp, from then on the coat of arms for Ireland, and a coat of arms with three crowns. This last coat of arms was to be the coat of arms of Munster, the Irish province ruled for such a long time by the FitzGeralds of Desmond. After this single occurence the arms with the three crowns disappears from royal heraldry for unknown reasons.


The Three Crowns Symbol


Much is written about the three crowns as a heraldic symbol by Heribert Seitz, mainly on the three crowns in connexion with the coat of arms of Sweden. [13] Later Gerard J. Brault has written about the three crowns in the coat of arms of the legendary mediaeval King Arthur. [14]


They have come to the following conclusions.

A legend tells the story of St. Helen, daughter of the King of Colchester who married Emperor Constantius I Chlorus (r. 305-306). She was the mother of Emperor Constantine who legalized the Christian Faith in the Empire. It was she who transported the remains of the Three Magi, formerly in the St Sophia in Constantinople, to the Church of St. Eustorgio in Milan. This legend dates from about 1137 and is told (and invented) by  Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regnum Brittaniae. Later, after the siege of Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, the relics were sent to Cologne where they arrived on the 23rd of July 1164. The possession of the relics was very profitable for the city because they attracted many pilgrims. In veneration of the Three Magi,  Emperor Otto IV presented three golden crowns for their heads, and somewhat later these three crowns appeared in the coat of arms of the city

            In the second half of the thirteenth century a banner with three crowns was attributed to St Edmund of East Anglia (855-871) a successor of the King of Colchester. This banner is certainly inspired by the legend of St. Helen. It is mentioned in the „Siege of Caerlaverock” (1300)  in vss. 945 a.f.


Puis fist li rois porter amont

Sa baniere e la Seint Eymont,

La Seint George, e la Saint Edwart,



On the authority of the “Wardrobe account for 1299-1300”, the banner mentioned above was Azure, three crowns Or. [15]

            In about 1325 the coat of arms with the three crowns was ascribed to King Arthur, one of the supposed successors of St Edmund. It is borne by the statue of King Arthur as one of the “Nine Good Kings” in the Hansasaal in the Town Hall of Cologne. 

            Intrigued by these arms seems to be the “Treatise on Heraldry” from about 1345 and now in Dublin, which gives some coats of arms with the three crowns in different arrangements (that is to say: the one beside the other, the one below the other and 2 and 1) but there is still no mention of a relation of the three crowns  with Ireland [16].

            This line of development of the coat of arms with three crowns ended in 1364, when King Albrecht of Mecklenburg adopted these arms, the crowns arranged 2 and 1, as the arms of the Kingdom of Sweden.


Sir Antony Wagner was of the opinion that “there are some (but not, I think conclusive) grounds for thinking that the same coat (i.e. the coat of arms with the three crowns of Robert de Vere), perhaps in consequence of this grant, came to be looked upon as that of Ireland”… and no better explanation is offered since then (1939).

            Certainly King Richard II was interested in heraldic inventions as his creation of the arms of St. Edward, inspired by a coin from the time of that king, demonstrates. The only match of St. Edmund and the Irish Kings is, however, that they were Gaelic, and this seems to be a quite unstable foundation for the adoption of the three crowns as the arms of Ireland.

            Whatever it may be, we simply do not know why and when the coat of arms with the crowns came to be the arms for Ireland, nor who was the author of these arms. [17]


The Sitting King


Some fifteenth century french and spanish roll’s of arms give us a coat of arms for the King of Ireland, existing of a king, sitting on his throne, crowned and with a sceptre with a lily in his right hand, on a black field. 


This coat of arms can be found, amongst others, in the following roll’s of arms::


a. In a 15th century manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris Fonds français (Ms. nr. 32753): Le Roy dirlande. On the same folio there is the coat of arms of King René of Naples (1435-1442).









Le Roy de Cracoe (1455ca) [18]


after 1469

Rex Irlandiæ ordinis S.Michaelis  (founded 1469) [19]

 b. In the Ms. nr 3711 (1288) dated 1475, in the Bibliotheque Mazarine, Paris with the legend: Le roy de Ybernie.


c. In a spanish roll of arms, dated 1478 in the Bibl. de Catalunya, Barcelo­na ms. 529 nr. 433 the coat of arms of the King of Ireland is given as: El rrey de Tarcona: Trae de negro con un rey de oro sentatdo en un sylla de oro tenyendo en su mano diestra un baston de oro floreta­do. [20]


d. At the end of the 15th c. in Ms. nr. 14357 fol. 15 r. B.N. Fonds Français: Le roy dirlande porte de sable a ung Roy dor sur une cheyze de (...) en sa main une fle' de lys dor et iambes lune sur lautre.




e. And in 1528 in Ms. 33551-A of the Bibliotheque Mazarine, Paris: Le Roy de Hyrlande.




The Stag Arms


Le roy dirlañde (1455 ca)


Arms: Azure,  a stag issuing fom a  tower Or, and a meadow Vert.[21]


.... the peculiar attitude of the stag issuing from a gate is strangely identical with the arms associated with Ireland since the end of the thirteenth century. (See S.M. Collins, “Some English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Arms in Medieval Continental Rolls”, Antiquaries Journal, xxi (1941), 209-10. Add Paris, Biblothèque Nationale, f.fr. 18651, fol. 103 recto and Paris Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal MS. 5027, fol. 190 recto: “Roy Belsors d’Irlande”, azure , a stag gules issuing from a gate argent.) (Brault, 1972, p. 28)


At the end of the thirteenth century a coat of arms is given for the King of Ireland, consisting of a stag issuing from a tower. It is mentioned in a french manuscript from that time as being the arms of „Roy Belsors d'Irlande” and it is: Azure, a stag Gules issuing from a gate Argent. [22] The stag and the gate are certainly taken from the Arthurian romances. In an episode in the „Charrète” of Chrétien de Troyes (1180) describing the Tournament of Noauz the coat of arms of King Ider is also a stag springing from a gate. The verses of Chrétien de Troyes read: 


Et veez vos celui  qui porte

An son escu pointe une porte?

Si sanble qu’il s’an isse uns cers.

Par foi, ce est li rois Yders


About the stag Brault remarks: “If this person is identical with the knight Yder, son of Nut, mentioned in Chrétien’s earlier romance Erec, the arms in question doubtless allude to the famous White Stag episode in that romance. According to a time-honoured custom, the knight who succeeded in slaying a white stag was obliged to kiss the fairest maiden at court, come what may. During the hunt organized by King Arthur for this purpose, Erec encounters Yder who allows a dwarf to affront Queen Guenevere. Erec subsequently avenges this insult and wins the hand of Enide who, brought back to Arthur’s court, is declared the fairest damsel of all. Versions of the White Stag episode appear in the Seconde Continuation, the Didot Perceval, and Durmart le Galois, but it is a striking parallel in the Perlesvaus which lends support to our hypothesis. In the latter romance, the hero is recognized by a white stag painted on his shield, plainly an  allusion to the episode as told in the Seconde Continuation. [23]

May this be as it is, it gives no explanation why the stag and gate came to be associated with Ireland. Nevetheless it seems that the idea was widely accepted because in the earlier mentioned spanish roll of arms from 1478 the coat of arms of the King of Ireland is described as: El rrey de Yrlanda. Trae de azul con castillo de oro y un ciervo saliendo y entrando en una landa, que quiere dezyr un prado verde con algunos arboles. [24]

            This blason is identical with the sinister banner in the achievement for Ireland in “Irish Nobility”, compiled between 1597 and 1603. [25]


The Crest


The crest of Ireland is: a tower triple towered Or, from the portal a hart springing Argent, attired and unguled Or. And though the crest maybe inspired by the royal arms with the stag, the hart and the tower are not identical with the stag and the gate. This suggests that the coat of arms and the crest are of  different origin.

            Indeed it seems to be accepted that the white hart is borrowed from the impresa (personal emblem) of King Richard II which was a hart couchant Argent, attired, unguled and shackled Or. [26] A magnifique example of this impresa is on the back of the Wilton Diptych, (c. 1394-9), today in the National Gallery in London. The white hart in the crest of Ireland thus points again to Robert de Vere, the favourite of Richard II and would-be duke of Ireland. [27] The tower triple towered may be determined in that case to be the Castle of Dublin, the city of which he was created a marquess for life in 1385. A thirteenth century seal matrix of the city of Dublin that features a triple towered fortified structure being defended under siege, is not contrary to this opinion [28]

            The crest with the springing hart was intermittendly used for Ireland until the end of the monarchy. [29]


Also see: The Stag


The King and the Hart


In a document in Ulster's Office  the achievement of Ireland is: “Sable, a king sitting on his throne cross-legged, holding in his right hand a lily Or. Crest - A tower triple towered or, from the portal a hart springing Argent attired and hoofed gold.” [30]


Ulster’s Office was founded  in 1552 in the time of King Edward VI (1547-’53)  as the successor of the King of Arms of Ireland existing from 1392 to 1485. We may expect from this Ulster’s Office that it was well informed about heraldry in Ireland but in how far it was the keeper of the documents of the former King of Arms of Ireland we do not know. If the document with the achievement of Ireland did belong to the inventory of the King of Arms of Ireland we do not know and consequently we do not know when this document was drawn up. Maybe it was a design for a new royal coat of arms for Ireland that was never adopted. 


Like it is dificult to ascertain of the national coat of Ireland with the three crowns, what by this nation is meant, it is difficult to determine which king is meant by Le Roy de Irlande. We may be sure in any case, that no  English king is meant because they bore the title “Lord of Ireland” and about the forms of adress, taking into account the importance of titles in those ancient times, the roll’s of arms were certainly quite accurate in the spanish and french roll’s of arms. It is for sure that between the death of Ruaidri and the adoption of the royal title by Henry VIII in 1541 there have been only two princes who called themselves King of Ireland by right. These were Brian Ua Niall (1258-1260) and Edubard a Briuis (= Edward Bruce) (r.1315-1318).

            The reign of the first matches with the coat of arms of le Roy d’Irlande in the Wijnbergen roll, and these arms will be discussed in a section below.

The second undertook a campaign in Ireland in 1315. We read about him: “For this, Edward was well received and after almost a year he was crowned King of Erin (Ireland) at Dundalk on May Day, 1316. He soon had almost all of Northern Ireland in his grasp. His end came when an army led by John de Bermingham was marching against him in the late summer of 1318. Bermingham's forces were vastly superior to those of Edward Bruce, but he was emboldened by his string of victories and sallied forth against the menace. His force of Scots, Irish and Meath rebels met the army on October 14th, 1318 and were soundly defeated.

“Bruce was killed by dint of fierce fighting. Many Scots died with him. A special messenger was immediately dispatched to inform the Dublin exchequer of the 'great victory' and the death of Bruce. His head was sent to the king by de Bermingham, who was rewarded with a grant of the new earldom of Louth. The rest of Bruce's body was quartered. His heart, hand and one quarter were brought to Dublin and the other quarters were sent “to other places”.[31]


As Bruce had been offered the Irish crown by a league of Irish chiefs under Donal O’Neill, Rex Ultonie, his kingship and following defeat must have made a great impression on the Irish who had lost their autonomy for would be a long period of time. Proof may be the O’Neill coat of arms which, from the time of Hugh Reamher O'Neill (1345 - 1364), shows the bloody hand of Bruce sent to Dublin.

For this reason we may suppose that the coat of arms with the sitting king was the coat of arms of those who resented the government from Westminster, be it the native Irish themselves, the “degenerate English” or the “English by blood” and all those oppressed by the Statutes of Kilkenny (1366) which had followed not long after the defeat of Bruce. The fact that the spaniards and the french were the “natural allies” of these groups, explains why this royal coat of arms is documented in Spanish and French manuscripts and not in English ones. It also explains that this coat of arms became obsolete after the death of the last Irish-born vice-king Garret Og FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare in 1534. As such this coat of arms belongs to the era of aristocratic home rule in Ireland in the 15th century which lasted until 1534.


The Harp.


A harp is the symbol of David for the time before he became King of Israel, that is before 1010 B.C.

I Sam. 16.23 reads:  

Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. [32]

            Pictures of David playing the harp are on some High Crosses, for example those of Casteldermot and Durrow. More often however Daniel is depicted, and in particular in the scene of Daniel in the lion’s den.  Here Daniel 6:2-4 applies: 2 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 3 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 4 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. And also Daniel 6. 22: My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

            As such the picture of Daniel symbolizes “the most excellent governor” and also “the preferred heir of the throne” as well as “by God’s grace master of the lions”. It seems not to be too far fetched that with these “lions” the petty Irish kings are meant.


The harp, on the contrary, symbolizes the servant of the king, as it was used in the time that David was the servant of King Salomon (I Sam.16.21).


In the time of the Lordship of Ireland a coat of arms with a harp appears in about the middle of the thirteenth century. There is a picture of it in the Wijnbergen Roll with the legend „Le Roi dirlande” [33] There are no other thirteenth or fourteenth century sources which relate a coat of arms with a harp to Ireland. On the other hand a coat of arms with a harp is attributed to King David in the “Nine Good Kings” cycluses which sprang up in the beginning of the fourteeth century.

            There may be a connexion of our coat of arms with the monastery of St. Davids in Pembroke. In the first place this is situated in the earldom of Richard de Clare, the invader of Ireland in the 12th century.  In his time David FitzGerald was bishop of St. Davids (1147-1176).  His brother Maurice (I), stewart of St. Davids, received a territory in Wexford by king Dermot MacMurrough (†1170)  and so the FitzGeralds controlled the two land-abutements of the most important road  between Wales and Ireland.  The son of Maurice (I), William,  was also invested with the stewartship of St. Davids and his brother’s son Maurice (II) was  justiciar of Ireland from 1232-1245. This last Maurice (II) belonged  thoroughly to the faction of the King of England, then Henry III. “In 1234 he fought and defeated his overlord, the earl marshal, Richard, earl of Pembroke, and he also fought for his king against the Irish, the Welsh and in Gascony, dying in 1257 ”[34]. Because of his close connexions with the monastery of St. Davids and because he certainly was a faithful servant of his king, the coat of arms with the harp would fit him very well. Also it is for sure that the Wijnbergen Roll was compiled during his lifetime.


This coat of arms seems to have been abandoned by his grandson (through his eldest son Gerald) or his youngest son, both called Maurice FitzGerald (IV and III), the latter Justiciar of Ireland for the year 1272.

            The new coat of arms is described in Walford’s Roll (1275) as: Morice le FitzGerald, d'argent un sautoir de gulez, and in Camden Roll (1280): Munsire Moris le FizGeroud, l'escu de argent a un sautur de gules. [35] 

            The heritage of MauriceFitzGerald (IV), the “heir male and head of the race” was the nucleus of the Earldom of Kildare of his heir John FitzThomas, who was granted the Earldom in 1316. His successor Maurice FitzGerald FitzThomas, the 4th earl (*1318-†1390)  bore, at the siege of Calais 1345-‘48: argent a saltire gules. and we may conclude from this that the arms with the saltire in Camden and Walford’s Roll’s were actually the arms of Maurice FitzGerald (IV).[36]


Le Roi d’Irlande


The legend “Le Roi dirlande” of the coat of arms with the harp in Wijnbergen Roll may pose a problem if we interpret the term “Roi” too narrowly. In that case only Brian O'Neill, who was Highking of Ireland from 1258-1260, would be the candidate as the owner of the arms with the harp. This would be highly improbable because no trace of a local Irish heraldry can be found in the thirteenth century. Also it would mean that the High King of Ireland considered himself as the servant of another king, i.c. King Henri III, which properly speaking, was, by the terms of the  Treaty of Windsor, in fact the case.  Another possibility is that Brian O’Neill considered the Pope (i.e. Alexander IV (1254-1261)) as his legal suzerein and aimed at restoring the constitutional situation before the Norman conquest. Certainly, however, this can not have been his ambition because his legitimacy laid in the fact that he had received the “kingship of the Gaels of Ireland” from the hands of “Fedlimid O Conchobair and Tadg O Briain at a famous meeting at Caeluisce near Belleck on the Eerne”. There is no sign that his kingship was ever recognized by King nor Pope.

            Both possibilities seem quite far fetched to me and therefore I will stick to the hypothesis that the term “Roi” in Wijnbergen Roll has to be interpreted as “Ruler” or “Prince” and that the coat of arms with the harp was the coat of arms of Maurice FritzGerald in his office of  Justiciar of Ireland.


Excursion I: The Harp of Brian Boru


The harp is preserved in Trinity College Library in Dublin. The legend reads:



Irelands oldest Harp.

This is the oldest and finest of the surviving Irish harps. Tradition­ally but mistakenly linked with Brian Boru, highking of Ireland who was killed in the Battle of Clontarf (now in the suburbs of Dublin) in 1014, it probably dates from the later middle ages (14th or 15th c.).

It came to light in Limerick in the eighteenth century and was presen­ted to the College by William Burton Comyngham.

The harp is made of willow and had 30 strings of which, after restoration, twenty nine have been left. It was resto­red and restrung in 1961.


The harp was made the badge of Ireland by Queen Victoria and subsequently became the charge of the presidential seal and coat of arms of the Irish Freestate in the twenties.


The seal and coat of arms of Ireland show the harp in the form before restoration.


The Harp, Symbol of Ireland.


The harp reappears as a symbol of the ruler (lord) of  Ireland in the socalled Rous Roll.[37] In this roll there is a portrait of King Richard III (r. 1483-1485) with his wife and son, surrounded by helmets with the crests of St Edward, Engeland, France, Ireland, Gascony and Wales, the crest of Ireland a harp. This is in accordance with the remark of Sir William Segar that  “Ye three crowns are ye antient arms of Ireland, the harp but an antient badge”  [38]

            Maybe the arms and crest were chosen at the instigation of the King of Arms of Ireland who certainly should have had a say in the matter. This office however did not survive Yorkist rule and that maybe the reason why both emblems disappeared for some time.


 Richard III surrounded by the crests of his territories, as depicted in Rous’ Roll. [39]

Above the legend Ireland a helmet with a harp as a crest.



The Harp Badge

Under Tudor rule the harp reappeared, not as a crest but as a badge of Ireland.  The oldest examples of this badge can be found on groats minted in 1534, even before Henri VIII had proclaimed himself King of Ireland in 1541. No trace of a coat of arms can be found, the coat of arms with the three crowns being not displayed for fear, it is stubbornly said, that the three crowns might be taken for the three crowns of the Pope.

            The harp has remained the symbol or badge of Ireland ever since its reapperance in the beginning of the 16th century. In the time of the monarchy the harp was always royally crowned. In the symbol of Ireland after 1922, the symbol is left uncrowned.

            The harp of the badge has always been a leverharp, its column at first of a simple form. During the Commonwealth and  Protectorate (1649-1660) a column in the form of an angel was introduced. After the discovery of the Brian Boru Harp in some (Victorian) drawings of the badge the harp was of the Brian Boru type but for most purposes the ancient form with the angel was preferred.

            The Irish Freestate adopted the uncrowned harp of the Brian Boru type as its badge and in this form it is also used nowadays.  The harp-badge has been printed on Irish coins without interruption from the time of Henri VIII to the modern times. [40]






























The Harp Badge: 1. Henry VIII; 2. Mary; 3. Confederation of Kilkenny; 4. Republican and Stuart; 5. William and Mary; 6.& 7 Georgian; ; 8 United Irishmen 1791-’98; 9 Victorian. 10. Freestate. 11. Freestate, second version.


Excursion II:  The Confederation of Kilkenny (1642-1649)


Confederate Ireland refers to the period of Irish self-government between the Rebellion of 1641 and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. During this time, two-thirds of Ireland was governed by the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the “Confederation of Kilkenny” (based in the city of Kilkenny). The remaining Protestant enclaves in Ulster, Munster and Leinster were held by armies loyal to the royalists, parliamentarians or Scottish Covenanters during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Confederates failed to defeat the British armies in Ireland in 1642–49 in a conflict known as the Irish Confederate Wars and joined a royalist alliance in 1648 against the Rump Parliament.


The Seal of the Confederation of Kilkenny of 1648 shows: A Latin cross between a royal crown and the Irish harp. In chief a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit and in base a flaming heart L.: pro deo rege et patria hiberni vnanimes. (United for God, the King and the Irish Fatherland)  [41]


Excursion III: The Society of United Irishmen (1791-1803 ca)


The Society of United Irishmen was founded as a Liberal political organisation in eighteenth century Ireland that sought Parliamentary reform. However it evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. In 1798 it launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798 with the objective of ending British rule over Ireland and founding an independent Irish republic.

The United Irishmen (1791-1798/1803) devised a seal incorporating the harp to represent Ireland with the slogan IT IS NEW STRUNG AND SHALL BE HEARD / EQUALITY. The red cap of liberty, presented to freed Roman slaves, is included. [42]

More about the SUI


The Coat of Arms with the Harp


Arms of King David

In the portuguese Livro do Armeiro Mor fol 1 v.


In the beginning of the 16th century a coat of arms with a harp was ascribed to  king David and a king of Ireland who was a historical category by the time.


Arms of the King of Ireland

In the portuguese Livro do Armeiro Mor (beginning 16th cent.(1511))


These arms were not adopted by the king in fact bearing the title Lord of Ireland (Dominus Hibernie) being the Kings Henry VII and VIII of England.


It is said that a coat of arms with three harps appeared on coins minted in the time of King Henry VIII but only the aforementioned groats with the harp-badge have been found until now.

            We may suppose that no royal arms for Ireland was adopted at all and that the royal arms of Henry VIII were not only used in Eng;land but in Ireland as well.

            A coat of arms with three harps two and one is printed on a coin of Queen Elizabeth I, dated 1561. This was certainly meant as the royal arms for Ireland.


Coin of Elizabeth I


Falsely dated 1661

Seal of Carrickfergus, 1602


three-harped arms


These arms were soon abandoned. On the design for the seal of Queen Elizabeth I for Ireland  by Nicholas Hilliard she is sitting in coronation robes between a coat of arms with only one harp and a coat of arms with three crowns. [43] Because the Queen is depicted quite young here, the design must have been made not long after 1561 but, as the information of the British Museum states, in any case before 1584


Dsign for the seal of Queen Elizabeth I

Brit Museum number1904,0704.1

Description Portrait of Elizabeth I, whole-length in a roundel, seated in a throne and holding orb and sceptre; arms extending from clouds on left and right


Producer name

Print made by: Anonymous After: Nicholas Hilliard

School/style British

Date 1586 (c.)

Materials paper

Technique engraving

Dimensions: H.: 127 mm (trimmed) ´ W: 123 mm (trimmed)

Curator's comments: A reproduction of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth in pencil and ink on vellum, in the collection of Peter Gellatly. The drawing is for the obverse of the Great Seal of Ireland, and the original was given to the BM by Peter Gellatly's widow in 1912 (see see 1912,0717.1).

Bibliography O'Donoghue 1908-25 131

Location Not on display (BH/FF10/Portraits British CI)


The arms with the harp and the arms with the crowns

by Nicholas Hilliard 1586



The harp-blason seems to have been introduced little by little. No proceedings of Ulster’s Office or any other heraldic authority have been preserved, the oldest remark on the coat of arms of Ireland being the one of William Segar, Garter. We cannot be sure therefore about how exactly the coat of arms was introduced. 

            The Hilliard design of the great seal was not used and instead a great seal, showing the Queen sitting between her quartered royal arms was cut.

            Following this, a banner for Ireland was introduced. This banner is depicted on a map of Augustine Ryther showing the route of the Armada in 1588. On this map are the achievements of the Queen herself and of the Lord High Admiral (= Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham (1585-1619), of Scotland and of England (pp. of England and the royal arms, crown, Garter). Ireland is represented by a banner with a harp, supported by a crowned lion rampant guardant.


Banner of Ireland, 1588 [44]


The next step in the introduction of a coat of arms for Ireland was the design in the “Irish Nobility”, compiled between 1597 and 1603. The coat of arms depicted in this work shows: Azure, a harp Or, crowned with an open crown and a golden helmet guardant, lambrequined Argent and Gules. And for crest,  on a wreath of the colors, a tower triple towered Or, a deer Argent issuing from its portal, and two banners in saltire, the dexter Sable, a king sitting on his throne, crosslegged, Argent, the sinister Azure, a house before four trees Or, springing from its door a stag Gules.

            Because of  its military nature, this coat of arms fits the Deputy Marshal of Ireland, in this period, until 1603, Thomas Burgh, 7th Baron Strabolgi for 1597, and Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire for 1600 - 1603.


Coat of arms of Ireland in “Irish Nobility”, 1597-1603.

National Library,  Dublin GO Ms 34.  [45])


Under Stuart rule these arms became obsolete and were replaced by the royal arms for Ireland. These were the crowned arms with the harp. This coat of arms was for example on the frontispiece of the Heraldic Vistitation (1607).








Arms of Ireland: 1. 1607, on the frontispiece of  “The Books of Heraldic Visitation”; 2. 1638, on a map of Blaeu, the hoops of the crown missing; 3. Cromwellian (after the obverse of his seal for Ireland); 4. Over the Speakers Chair in the House of Commons, 1660-1801; 5. In the German Heraldischer Atlas, 1899, with the hart-and-tower crest. 6. On  florins, 17th C. until 1926 (issue 1921). After 1926 the arms appear with a harp of the Brian Boru type and without crown.


The Royal Achievement


The achievement of state of the Government of Ireland was the royal achievement. Consequently the nucleus of the achievement was the royal arms. At the end of the sixteenth century this was, as we have seen a blue shield with a golden harp. The royal achievement for Ireland was in this time the crowned arms with the harp, surrounded by the strap of the Order of the Garter and supported by the lion of England and the dragon of Wales.

Royal achievement for Ireland.

as on the map of The Province of Mounster by Francis Jobson (1598)


At the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and the nine years war, the royal achievement was less friendly to Irish autonomy. It consisted of the coats of arms of England, Ireland and Wales in alliance and this may be the last achievement Queen Elizabeth actually used. 


Royal Elizabethan achievement for the personal union of England, Ireland and Wales.

The motto Semper Eadem is the personal motto of Queen Elizabeth I


After the accession of King James I in 1603 the blason for Ireland was introduced in the third quarter of the royal arms and of the royal achievement. A quote of Arthur Fox Davies about this introduction reads:

“For the following two paragraphs I am indebted to a small pamphlet published by Mr. John Vinycomb: At the accession of King James I to the English throne when the change of the Royal arms was made, Sir William Segar relates that the Earl of Northampton, the Deputy Earl Marshall, observed that he had no affection for the change; that for the adoption of the harp the best reason he could assign was that it resembled Ireland in being such an instrument that it required more cost to keep it in time than it was worth.” [46]

            The new royal coat of arms was printed on the irish currency in about 1613 and was maintained in its different forms on it until 1828. [47]

            For all the time of the monarchy the royal achievement for Ireland was identical to the royal achievement for England. It was displayed in the House of Commons.


Commonwealth and Protectorate



The use of the royal arms and achievement was interrupted during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate (1649-1660).


Plaster cast of the seal of Oliver Cromwell for Ireland.  L.: MAGNUM SIGILLUM HIBERNIÆ.


In this time the arms for Ireland of the Lord Protector were: Azure, a harp Or and in nombril point an escutcheon Sable, a lion Argent (Cromwell). The achievement on the great seal was changed accordingly. It existed of the arms of the Lord Protector. Crest.: On a crowned royal helmet a lion statant guardant imperially crowned or. Mantling: Sable and ermine; Supporters.: D.: a lion rampant guardant imperially crowned or for England; S.: a dragon with wings elevated gules for for Wales. Motto: pax quaeritur bello (Peace is Sought by War). [48]


Only at the end of the 18th century there appeared a royal achievement for Ireland with the Irish harp unmarshalled. It is still displayed on Custom House in Dublin of 1791.  Nine years later the Irish parliament was dissolved and the Union of England, Scotland and Ireland established.


Achievement for Ireland on Custom House, Dublin 18th century  (1791)

The royally crowned arms of Irland, supported by the lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland


Excursion IV: The Irish Crown Jewels.

For the Irish Crown Jewels I may quote the following from Stephen Patterson’s “Royal Insignia”:


The Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick.

The Order of St. Patrick, founded in 1783, finally lapsed with the death of the last surviving recipient, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, in 1974. The Irish equivalent of the Garter and the Thistle, the Order never acquired the same status as its earlier cousins, and can be viewed as an Order to reward those in high office in Ireland and Irish peers on whose support the government of the day depended. Its most famous insignia were the badge and star used by the Lords Lieutenant (and later Viceroys), who were always Grand Master of the Order during their term of office, but rarely Knights in their own right. This badge and star, dubbed the ‘Irish Crown Jewels’, were made available for the Lord Lieutenant’s use by King William IV in 1830, having been made by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell from 394 stones taken in part from three bows of brilliants and pearls which had belonged to Queen Charlotte and a briljant badge of the Order of the Bath which had belonged to King George III. The Lord Lieutenant was also given “a large Brilliant Badge” which had originally belonged to King George IV. The insignia achieved some notoriety after their theft from Dublin Castle in 1907. The pieces were never recovered. The collar was an amalgamation of designs, bearing the harp of Ireland with roses and love knots similiar in style to the Garter; but the badge and star provided the opportunity to work with coloured stones, particularly emeralds and rubies. […..]


The Order effectively went into abeyance with the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and after that date only four Knights were appointed, three of whom were royal Knights: the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1927, the Duke of Gloucester in 1934, and the Duke of York (later King George VI) in 1936. [49]


The badge of the Order consists of a green enamelled shamrock, each leaf with a five-arched crown, set on a red enamelled cross of St. Patrick, encircled by the motto QUIS SEPARABIT MDCCXXXIII (Who will separate us 1783), and a yellow bordure charged with twelve green shamrock leaves.


In this “Cross of St. Patrick” we recognize the cross of the arms of the FitzGerald family. This cross was also taken for the flag of Ireland, designed for the Union of 1801: White, a red saltire. 


Freestate and Republic


In 1916 there was an rising in Dublin against the British Government. This rising is known as the Easter Rising.


The Easter Rising (Éirí Amach na Cásca) was a rebellion staged in Ireland in Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was an attempt by militant Irish republicans to win independence from Britain. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.

Organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising lasted from Easter Monday April 24 to April 30, 1916. Members of the Irish Volunteers, led by schoolteacher and barrister Patrick Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan, seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic independent of Britain. There were some actions in other parts of Ireland but, except at Ashbourne, County Meath, they were minor.

The Rising was suppressed after six days of fighting, and its leaders were court-martialled and executed. (Wikipedia)

Arms of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic

(Rialtar Sealadac na h Eireann)

proclaimed during the Easter Rising of 1916.


The arms consist of the Irish harp on a shield. On the upper side of the shield is a crowned helmet to the dexter with a crest of ostrich´s feathers. The shield is supported by two three coloured  flags in saltire.

The three coloured flag of Ireland was first hoisted in 1848.


This achievement is on a picture, now at the Office of Public Works in Ireland, showing the executed leaders of the Easter Rise (in alphabetical order):

R. Casement, T. Clarke, C. Colbert, J. Conolly, E. Daly, P.H. Hearse, S. Heuston, T. Kent, J. MacBride, S. MacDermott, T. MacDonagh, M. Mallin, M. O’Hanrahan, W. Pearse, E J. Plunkett, E. Veannt.





On 21st of January 1919 the Irish Republic was proclaimed. As the new republic was not recognized by the British Government the Irish War of Independence broke out. As a result the Irish Freestate / Saorstát Eireann was established on the 16th of January 1922. This Freestate had the status of a British Dominion with King George V as the head of State.


For its arms a request was made in 1922 to Thomas U. Sadlier, Deputy Ulster King of Arms by Hugh Kennedy, first Law Officer, for advice about the arms of Ireland for possible use on a new Free State flag. Their correspondence on this subject, including a report by Sadlier on the history of the arms of Ireland and accompanying sketches, are held in the archives of University College Dublin (UCD, P4/810/2).

Sadlier’s sketches made for the purpose were used by the Free State Government to form the basis for the new Great Seal.The same seal was not registered in the records of the Office and the actual execution of the design was undertaken by the heraldic artist attached to the Office of Arms but apparently in a private capacity as the Free State chose not to engage with the Office of Arms directly in securing designs for its early symbols of State.’

Therefore ten years later in a comment made by Thomas U. Sadlier, in a letter to A. T. Butler, Windsor Herald, in July of 1932 stated that ‘there are no arms on record for the Irish Free State.’ [50]



The Great Seal of the Irish Free State (Irish: Séala Mor do Shaorstát Éireann) was the official seal  which replaced the Great Seal of the Realm used to seal official documents of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) by the Governor General. The Great Seal is currently kept at National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks,

The reverse of the Great Seal contains an image of the harp surrounded by the words "SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN" in Gaelic script, the obverse contained an image of George V, King of Ireland  enthroned. After the Constitution of Ireland was enacted the Presidential Seal was struck as a replacement to the Great Seal.


More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Seal_of_the_Irish_Free_State


About the end of the twenties a coat of arms for the Irish Freestate appeared in continental sources. Nothing is known about a bill or warrant legalizing this coat of arms. It consisted of the so-called Harp of Brian Boru in gold on a blue field. It was placed within a frame decorated with some ancient Irish art motifs and underneath the name of the Freestate in Irish: „SAORSTAT EIREANN

Arms of Ireland 1928 [51]






By Constitution of 29th of December 1937 Ireland was proclaimed an independent state with the name of „Eire”. From this time the harp appears on a shield with a pointed base as depicted in the head of this article.




The Official Seal of the President of Ireland (Irish: Séala Oifigeamhail Uachtarán na hÉireann) was presented to the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde (1938-1945) and every subsequent president, to be affixed to every "...order, commission, warrant, or other instrument..." which the president has witnessed. A serving president has custody of the official seal, but if his powers are being carried out by the Presidential Commision, then that body has custody of the official seal.

The official seal has the word “EIRE” in Gaelic  script, and uses the modified harp that is used as the official state symbol on coins and documents of the Republic of Ireland. The official seal is similar to the design of the Great Seal of the Irish Free State which was itself under the custody of the Governor general of the Irish Free State. 


In the end a coat of arms for Ireland was registered in 1945  


Arms of Ireland 1945

Office of the Chief Herald,  Registration  G.O. Ms IIIG



1949- Present     


From 1949 Ireland is a republic with the name of „Poblacht nah Eire­ann / Republic of Ireland”.



Back to Main Page



© Hubert de Vries 2008.08.08. Updated 2020-03-07




[1]  For example: Henry, Françoise: Croix Sculptées Irlandaises. Dublin, 1964.  A collection but with a classical interpretation.

[2]  Brown, Douglas: The Lichfield Gospels. London, 1982.

[3]  I Kings 10. 18 Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them.  II Chronicles 9:17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. 18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: 19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom. Many mediæval kings had lion’s trones, among them Emperor Henry VI.

[4] In sofar the dates in the Irish Kingslists are correct. The manuscript formerly was known as  St. Chad’s Gospels… after the 7th century Nothumbriam missionary who became bishop of Mercia and fixed his see in Lichfield. But the Lichfield Gospels were almost certainly written after Chad’s death in 672…..(Brown).  Chad was consecrated in Ireland and this makes us think that maybe he himself has taken the manuscript with him on his missions. This would imply that the Lichfield Gospels are a little less than a hundred years older and that an O Neill king of the middle of the 7th century is depicted. In 664 the Irish church lost its influence in England and as a result St. Chad was appointed first and Roman Catholic bishop of Lichfield by king Wulfhere of Mercia (658-675). In his time a certain Tómméne was called “bishop of Armagh” (r 623-† 661).

[5] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Portrait_of_St_Luke%2C_St_Chad_Gospels.jpg

[6] Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (of the first creation), (*1130 –† 20 April 1176) Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland (1173-1176) was an Anglo-Norman nobleman notable for his leading role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. Like his father, Richard fitz Gilbert has since become commonly known by his nickname Strongbow (Norman French: Arc-Fort), which may be a mistranscription or mistranslation of "Striguil."

For a biography and a description of the character of Richard Strongbow see: https://www.libraryireland.com/biography/RichardDeClareStrongbow.phpFor the sagittary of Stephen see: https://www.cayzle.com/screeds/lion059.html

[7]  Wagner, A.: Historic Heraldry of Britain, Chicester, 1972  no. 4.

[8]  Matthew Paris: Chronica Majora 16 f. 160v.

[9]  www.irishcoinage.com/PICINDX2.HTM

[10]  Bernhard Burke who writes in “The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales”. (London, 1880): From a MS in the handwriting of Sir William Neve Claren­ceux, it appears on the authority of  Sir William Segar, Garter that…. (Edward IV 1461-1470). William Segar was  Garter from  1607-1633.

[11]  Wagner, A. op. cit , 1972. Pl. VIII nr. 39.

[12]  The persona arms of Robert de Vere being: Quarterly  Gules and Or, in the first an estoile of the second. Picture from Wagner, op.cit. 

[13] Seitz, Heribert:  [1]. De Tre Kronorna. Symbolens väg till vårt land. In: Livrustkammaren. Journal of the Royal Armoury Stockholm. Vol. VIII: 6. Juni 1959. pp. 119-144. [2] Trekronorsymbolen under 1300-talet. In: Livrustkammaren. Journal of the Royal Armoury Stockholm. Vol. VIII: 9. Februari 1960, pp. 199-214. [3] Three Crowns as a European Symbol and as the Swedish Coat of Arms. In: Recueil du Ve Congrès International des Sciences Généalogique et Héraldique 1960. Stockholm, 1961, pp. 240-249. [4] De Tre Kronorna. Det Svenska Riksvapnet i Sitt Europeiska Sammanhang. P.A. Norstedt & Sönersför­lag. Stockholm, 1961.

[14] Brault, Gerard J.: Early Blason. Heraldic Terminology in the XII and XIII centuries with special reference to Arthurian literature. Clarendon Press. Oxford, 1972. Pp. 44 - 47.

[15]  Liber Quotidianus Contratulatoris Garderobae ... A.D.MCCXCIX & MCCC, London 1787, p. 64

[16]  Begley, Donal F., Chief Herald of Ireland: The Genealogical Office. In: Treasures from the National Library of Ireland.  1994. Pp. 203-233, specially pp. 210-211. A Treatise on Heraldry: GO Ms 7. In the opnion of  the Chief Herald however, these are the arms of  “The Lordship of Ireland”.

[17]  A hypothesis is given that Ireland was conquered under the banners of  St. Edmund and St. George and that from that time on the banner of St. Edmund was used in Ireland. Another one is that the Three Magi were the patron saints of Richard II, reason why he adopted their symbol as the arms for Ireland. None of these hypotheses however is supported by scientific research.

[18] http://www2.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/archim/0008/dafanch06_a103502n00006_2.htm 1455ca

[19] https://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/0002/bsb00020245/images/index.html?id=00020245&groesser=&fip=

[20]  Riquer, Martin de: Heraldica Castellana en Tiempos de los Reyes Catholicos. Nr. 433. After: Biblioteca de Catalunya ms 529 fols. 93v-96v. Taracona = Tara, the seat of the Irish High Kings.

[21] http://www2.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/archim/0008/dafanch06_a103502n00006_2.htm 1455ca

[22] Brault, G.J. Early Blazon. Heraldic Terminology in the XII and XIII centuries with special reference to Arthurian literature. Clarendon Press. Oxford, 1972.  p. 28. note 5: Paris, Bibliotèque nationale, f. fr. 18651, fol 103 r° en  Paris, Bibliotèque de l’Arsenal, MS. 5027, fol. 190 r°: “Roy Belsors d’Irlande:  .

[23] Brault, G.J. Op. cit p. 28               

[24] Riquer, M. de, op. cit 1986  nr. 435

[25]  See below: The Arms with the Harp.

[26]  Ó Comáin, Micheál: Irish Heraldry. Dublin 1991, p. 110.

[27]  His crest in his time as Duke of Oxford: A hog Azure, maned and tusked Or, standing on a ducal hat. (Gelre, n° 565).

[28]  Treasures from the National Library of  Ireland. Dublin 1994, p. 217

[29] Fox-Davies, A.C.: The Book of Public Arms. London, 1915. Ireland.: Azure, a harp or stringed argent. Crest: On a wreath of the colours (or and az.) a tower triple towered or, from the portal a hart springing ar., attired and unguled also or. At the present time the crest is universally quoted with the hart "springing", and it was so blazoned in the Royal Warrant of King George III. The earliest record in the College of Arms, however, distinctly shows the hart "rodged", and it is interesting to trace through the different drawings how, through "indifferent drawing", the position of the animal has been altered.

[30]  Burke, Bernhard The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London, 1880.

[31]  This last quotation from: Lydon, James: The impact of the Bruce invasion, 1315-1327. In: A new history of Ireland. II. Medieval Ireland, 1169-1534. Oxford, 1987.

[32]  Saul (1020-1010) and David (1010-970), were kings of the united kingdoms of Israel. On the shield of  David (Magen David) there was a hexagram.

[33]  Wijnbergen fol 35 r°,  n° 1280. Le Roi dirlande. Today in a private collection in the Netherlands. Adam-Even, Paul & Léon Jéquier: Un Armorial français du XIIIe siècle, l'armorial Wijnbergen. In: Archives Heraldiques Suisses. 1951 pp. 49-62, pp. 101-110; 1952 pp. 28-36, 64-68, 103-111; 1953 pp. 55-77. The arms are better ascribed to Maurice (I) FitzGerald. The other arms of this part of  Wijnbergen Armorial are from the first half of the 13th century.

[34]  Brittanica

[35]  Brault, Gerard J.: Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. The Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park and London, 1973. Nrs. C 166, Cl 171, Cd 68 en D 179.

[36]  In the 15th and 16th century: Sable, a saltire Or, as documented by continental sources.

[37]  B.L. add. ms. 48976.

[38] Burke, B.: op.cit. London, 1880.: Ireland. rest of the quote of Sir William Segar, Garter

[39] http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?order=b&ref=add_ms_48976_f001ar

[40]  For all Irish coinage see: http://www.irishcoinage.com/index.html. Irish coinage interrupted from 1826-1928.

[41]  High Court of Admiralty 30/855. Picture from: Cooper, J.C.: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols. Thames & Hudson, London, 1978, p. 83.

[42]  Picture internet: Courtesy of Merlin/Wolfhound Press.

[43]  AN396165001 © The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Prints & Drawings Registration number: 1904,0704.1 Bibliographic reference O'D 131 Location: Portraits British CI

[44] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Armadaroute.jpg

[45]  Also Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 4814, fol. 8. From: Treasures from the National Library of  Ireland. Dublin 1994, p. 212.

[46] Fox-Davies, A.C.: The Book of Public Arms. London, 1915. (Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton (1540-1614)) And:

[47] Ibid.:  “Sir Arthur Chicester was re-appointed to the government of Ireland as Lord Deputy July 1613; it is stated that it was at his instigation the Harp of Ireland was first marshalled with the arms of the sister kingdoms upon the Irish currency, and in one form or another it has ever since continued to be impressed upon the coin of the realm. Some of the copper coins of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth have it is said, the three harps for Ireland upon the shield, as of undetermined whether to follow the triple or single representation of the device. A curious old seal of the port of Carrikfergus dated 1605 has upon the shield three harps of the Brian Boru type.” 

[48] Legend on the seal.: MAGNVM SIGILLVM HIBERNIÆ. On the obverse of the seal Cromwell on horseback and the legend: OLIVARIUS DEI GR REIP ANGLIÆ, SCOTIÆ, HIBERNIÆ PROTECTOR

[49] Patterson, Stephen: Royal Insignia. London, 1996, pp. 110-112.

[50] Info: Ciara Kerrigan Assistant Keeper I - Special Collections and Office of the Chief Herald  National Library of Ireland. Also referring to Hood, Susan: Royal Roots, Republican Inheritance. New Hampshire, 2002

[51] Ruhl, Jul.M. : Die Wappen aller Souveränen Länder der Erde. Leipzig, 1928

Flag Counter In cooperation with Heraldry of the World