the O'Reilly family crest

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Robert Miller

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Aug 27, 1990, 10:00:07 PM8/27/90
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I recently attended an Irish festival with a friend (both of us are
of Irish descent) and he showed me what his family (O'Reilly) crest
looked like. One of the more striking features of the crest is
a severed hand with blood dripping from it.

There's got to be a good story behind how that got there. Does
anyone know it?

Robert
rmi...@sbcs.sunysb.edu

Jim Reilly

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Aug 28, 1990, 9:58:35 AM8/28/90
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I think the explanation I like best for the O'Reilly crest is
that the head of the O'Reilly clan had two sons, and when he
was getting old enough that one of them should take control of
the clan, he decided that there should be a contest to decide which
of the two would become head of the clan.
So he took the both of them outside the edge of the family property,
and he told them there would be a contest to decide who would his
heir. They would both race to the family's land and whoever touched
the land first, would inherit all and become leader of the clan.
When the race started, one son took off like a deer. The other simply
took out his sword, chopped off his hand and threw it onto the property, and
so won.

I don't know if this tall tale is true, but I have always thought the
O'Reilly crest looked nicest of all the Irish family crests. But I may
be just a bit predjudiced ;-).
--
Internet Mailbox: rei...@tel.vtt.fi
UUCP Mailbox: ...!arpa!cunyvm.cuny.edu!router.funet.fi!vtttel!reilly
...!mcvax!kth!draken!tut!router!vtttel!reilly

Greg Bullough

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Aug 28, 1990, 4:56:31 PM8/28/90
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In article <50...@hemuli.tik.vtt.fi> James....@tel.vtt.fi (Jim Reilly) writes:
>
> When the race started, one son took off like a deer. The other simply
>took out his sword, chopped off his hand and threw it onto the property, and
>so won.

Hmmm. Sort of counter-Darwin, isn't it?

Greg

Damian M. Lyons

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Aug 29, 1990, 9:54:49 AM8/29/90
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In article <50...@hemuli.tik.vtt.fi> James....@tel.vtt.fi (Jim Reilly) writes:
>
> I think the explanation I like best for the O'Reilly crest is
>that the head of the O'Reilly clan had two sons, and when he
> .............
>..............

> When the race started, one son took off like a deer. The other simply
>took out his sword, chopped off his hand and threw it onto the property, and
>so won.
>

Hmmm. Isn't this the same story they tell about the `red hand of
ulster' symbol? I believe in that case the sotry goes as follows: When
the Milesians (a mythical prechristian race) were approaching Ireland
(from Spain I believe) they made a wager that the first person to
touch the earth would have his choice of the land (or whatever). All
the ships were neck and neck (bow and bow?) until one of the sons of
Milesius did some `lateral thinking' and cut his hand and threw it on
shore. He claimed Ulster as his, and the hence the symbol of Ulster is
a red severed hand.

Damian.

Sanderson_Gomke

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Aug 29, 1990, 12:25:23 PM8/29/90
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In article <50...@hemuli.tik.vtt.fi> James....@tel.vtt.fi (Jim Reilly) writes:
>
>I don't know if this tall tale is true, but I have always thought the
>O'Reilly crest looked nicest of all the Irish family crests. But I may
>be just a bit predjudiced ;-).
>--
Being heavily involved in Scottish heraldry I find your last couple of entries
of some interest.

The Scots use their Chief's crest surrounded by a belt of fealty as the Clan
Badge. Is the same true for the Irish families?

The reason that I ask is that a lot of people operate under the false
assumption of a "family coat of arms", which does not exist, and I would like
to be able to answer the Irish folks who ask me about heraldry with correct
information. It's always nice to be able to show them something they can
properly display after you've told them they don't have a "family" coat of
arms. I'm on relatively steady ground with Scottish and English customs,
but I'm ashamed to admit my studies of Irish heraldic practices and customs
are not nearly what I would like them to be.

JOHN MCKEON: STYX RBBS-PC LIMERICK

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Aug 31, 1990, 9:05:25 AM8/31/90
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This is the Red Hand of Ulster (which also appears on the McKeon
family crest). There is not, or should not be, any blood dripping
from the wrist. There are at least two stories about its origin.
One is that it represents knowledge, the hand of God (as distinct
from wisdom, the mind of God, represented by the salmon, which
also appears on the McKeon family crest). Red is the colour of
holiness: cf Indian deities with blue faces.

The second story is much more fun, and is the "received" version.
The O'Neill, High King of Scotland, granted the whole of Ireland
in perpetuity to whichever of his two sons should be the first
to set his hand on the Irish shore. The two sons were deadly
rivals, and set out to row across the North channel between
Scotland and Ireland, about 9 miles distant at that point,
leaving the Scottish shore at the same moment.
As they neared the Irish shore, the younger O'Neill's boat
drew ahead. The elder, Hugh, drew his sword and cut off his
own right hand and flung it to shore, establishing his rightful
claim to the land of Ireland.
--
"Eppuor si muove!" (Galileo Galilei)
-------------------------------------------------------------------
John McKeon, Material Science Dept. University of Limerick, Ireland
also Sysop of STYX RBBS Limerick +353-61-332229 FidoNet 2:253/171

William Clark

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Aug 31, 1990, 10:26:15 AM8/31/90
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I thought the "Red Hand of Ulster" was attributable to an early
chieftain of the O'Neill clan. Following some military defeat or other,
and I'm not quite sure by whom (maybe even the British), O'Neill was
made to sign a document of surrender. Either before or after signing
(again my memory is not too clear on this) he cut off his right hand
as a sign of his shame and revulsion, and threw the bloody hand away.

William Clark

Al Stavely

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Aug 31, 1990, 3:50:27 PM8/31/90
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In article <107...@philabs.Philips.Com> d...@puka.UUCP (Damian M. Lyons) writes:
>In article <50...@hemuli.tik.vtt.fi> James....@tel.vtt.fi (Jim Reilly) writes:
>>
>> I think the explanation I like best for the O'Reilly crest is
>>..............

>
>Hmmm. Isn't this the same story they tell about the `red hand of
>ulster' symbol? I believe in that case the sotry goes as follows: When
>...

> one of the sons of
>Milesius did some `lateral thinking' and cut his hand and threw it on
>shore. He claimed Ulster as his, and the hence the symbol of Ulster is
>a red severed hand.
>

I heard this story in connection with the O'Neills, not the O'Reillys.
The O'Neill crest is a red hand too, at least according to my old friend
Barry O'Neill of Toronto. Wasn't the thrower in this version of the story
Niall of the Nine Hostages?

- Allan Stavely, New Mexico Tech, USA

reelj...@gmail.com

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Jun 24, 2017, 4:43:03 AM6/24/17
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Love it expands a lot family history youngest son named Damien reel very proud

caro...@usa.net

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Jan 25, 2018, 3:29:13 AM1/25/18
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My father who has scots-irish ancestry told me the story of the ORR family crest..a bleeding hand…based on similar story but of the scots being told the first to touch the land of ireland would own it. The ships were neck in neck and one cut off his hand and threw it on the land.

Nick O'Riley

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Nov 26, 2022, 1:35:53 AM11/26/22
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That's the legend that's been cast down in or family. Our spelling is: O'Riley
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