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