Heraldry in Ireland, part 1

Ireland Heraldry in most of Western Europe is highly feudalized and arose in a feudal environment. There are, however, regions of Europe which have their own heraldic jurisdiction, uses and traditions, where feudalism came late, and was imposed on a tribal foundation. Examples of these regions are, in Eastern Europe, Poland and Hungary, and in Western Europe, the Highlands and Isles of Scotland and Ireland and Wales. What occurs in these regions is the overrunning of an allodial society by feudalism. An allodial society is one where property is owned free and clear of any superior landlord and lands are held tribally. All members of a tribe claimed to be of common blood and sooner or later these clan communities had to submit to Kings who were the heads of a feudal society. Where possible the Crown attempted to tie down the chiefs of the clans to a particular area, or in Gaelic a

duthus , which was often incorporated into the feudal society as a barony, or some fief of an existing barony.

The Chiefs of the Irish tribal  organization as a result of Anglo-Norman influence, came to be possessed of  Coats of Arms, as did the chieftains of their branch clans. All, eventually, became subjected to the authority of the government located in Dublin, as the Crown of Ireland, a united Crown with that of England, and under the jurisdiction of the Ulster King of Arms. The same Laws of Arms, and the same practice of Heraldry became established in Ireland as in England. An Officer of Arms was originally appointed by Richard II in the 14th Century and bore the title Ireland King of Arms. But the Ireland King of Arms, who was first mentioned in 1382, was always considered to be a member of the English heraldic body and does not seem to have done very much in Ireland and the office disappears in 1487.

Edward VIIn 1553 Edward VI, left,created the Ulster King of Arms to have jurisdiction over Irish Coats of Arms and this officer had rank equal to that of the Scottish and English King’s of Arms. Edward VI noted the events in his journal from February 2nd 1553 – “ There was a King of Arms made for Ireland, whose name was Ulster and his province was all of Ireland, and he was the fourth King of Arms, and the first Herald of Ireland” The reason for the use of the term Ulster, a province in the North of Ireland, to denote the whole of the country is unknown. Communication in Ireland at that time was much more difficult than in England due to the language difference and the poor state of the roads in the country, as a result there was a limited number of  Visitations unlike in England. The recorded Visitations are Dublin and parts of County Louth 9 1568-70 ), Drogheda and Ardee 9 1570 ), Swords, County Dublin 9 1572 ),Cork 9 1574 ), Limerick 9 1574 ), Dublin City (1607), Dublin County (1610), Wexford ( 1610 )). In order to overcome the lack of Heraldic inspection the Ulster Kings of Arms had authority to confirm Coats of Arms which the claimants family could show to have been used in the family for three generations.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published