Our Family History

Athy Coat of Arms
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Arms. Checky, argent and gules, on a chevron of the last, three etoiles, or. Crest. A demi lion rampant.

Translation:

Arms. Checkered, red and silver, on a chevron of red, three estioles (wavy stars), gold. Crest. A half lion rampant.

Definitions:

Checky.

(fr. échiqueté, old fr. Eschequeré)

(fr. échiqueté, old fr. Eschequeré)

Chequy, Checky, Checquer-bearing, (fr. échiqueté, old fr. eschequeré) terms applied to a field or charge divided by perpendicular and horizontal lines, into small squares of metal and colour alternately. There should be at least twenty squares in the shield. If less, the number is named (as in the shield of TOLEDO, where there are 15). When only 9, with the French heralds the terms equipollé is applied.

While the number of pieces in the field must be, as already said, as least twenty, a fesse or other ordinary when blazoned chequy must contain three rows of squares, for if there be but one, the ordinary will be compony, and if but two, counter-compony. At the same time the field may have but two rows in chief of a fesse, for so the arms of Lord Clifford are represented in the glass windows at Dorchester, Hasely, &c.

When a bend, chevron, or saltire is checquy, the square are not placed perpendicularly, but slanting in the direction of the ordinary.

Argent.

Argent, (fr.) the tincture Silver. By those who emblazon according to the Planetary system it is represented by the Moon, just as the tincture of gold is represented by the Sun. Hence it is sometimes fancifully called Luna in the arms of princes, as also Pearl in those of peers. As silver soon becomes tarnished, it is generally represented in painting by white. In engraving it is known by the natural colour of the paper; and in tricking by the letter a. In the doubling of mantles it may be called white, because (as the old heralds say) it is not in that case to be taken for a metal, but the skin of a little beast called a Litvite. Sometimes, too, in old rolls of arms the term blanc is used.

Gules.

Gules, (fr. gueules) the heraldic name of the tincture red. The term is probably derived from the Arabic gule, a red rose, just as the azure was derived from a word in the same language, signifying a blue stone. The word was, not doubt, introduced by the Crusaders. Heralds have, however, guessed it to be derived from the Latin gula, which in old French is found as gueule, i.e. the "red throat of an animal." Others, again, have tried to find the origin in the Hebrew word gulade, which signifies red cloth. Gules is denoted in engravings by numerous perpendicular lines. Heralds was blazoned by planets and jewels called it Mars, and Ruby.

The name variously spelt goules, goulez, goulz, gowlys, occurs frequently in ancient rolls of arms, as will have been observed by the examples given throughout the Glossary.

In the Siege of Carlaverock, as has been noticed under Colour, the terms both rouge and vermeile are poetically used, and to these may be added rougette.

Etiole.

Estoile, or star, (fr. étoile) is as a rule represented of six points and wavy. Estoiles sometimes occur with a greater number of points, as eight, or sixteen. When the rays are represented straight this has been probably by accident, as the figure would then more properly be described as a mullet of so many points, but there has, no doubt, been some confusion between the estoile and mullet, the latter with English heralds being of five points, and with French heralds of six. See Mullet, also Star, and Rowel.

Or.

Or, (fr. From Latin aurum) the chief of the tinctures, i.e. gold.

Interpretation of the meaning of the coat of arms:

Checky This pattern is said by some to be derived from the game of chess, which if not originally introduced into Europe by the Crusaders was certainly revived by them. Others, however, with greater probably derived it from the Steward's or 'chequer' board. In the Exchequer of the kingdom, and the Chancellor of that department, the word is still retained; and the 'Checkers,' a frequent sign of small inns, with the board painted in squares on the outside, still hands down the tradition of the account board. It is not, however, impossible that this board gave the name to the game of chess played upon it.

Argent (white or silver) Peace and sincerity

Gules (Red) Warrior or martyr; Military strength and magnanimity

Chevron Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service

Estoile Celestial goodness; nobility

Or (yellow or gold) Generosity and elevation of the mind

Lion Dauntless courage; often represents a person or group of people



Comparison:

In referencing the Athy Arms with hundreds of other Arms from Ireland some connections can be established.

The only Arms with three estoilles are those of the O'Neill clan and it's sub septs.

The only Arms with three gold estoiles, are the arms of the O'Cathain sept of Ui Fiachrach Aidhne, chiefs of Cineal Sedna of County Galway, a sub sept of the O'Neill's and ruled by the O’Heynes. The O’Cathain arms display the estoiles on a shield of argent, same as the chevron on the Athy arms.

They were directly descended from King Daithi, the last pagen King of Ireland, ruled from 406 and 425 A.D., and the the son of Fiachra a half - brother to King Niall of the Nine Hostages the 1st Ui Niaill High King of Tara / Ireland in the 4th Century AD. He was descended from Conn of the Hundred Battles the 1st Dal Cuinn King of Tara / Ireland in the 2nd Century AD who was a descendant of hEremon the Milesian Gaelic Celtic King of Ireland who arrived in 1699 BC from Spain.

Further, the O'Cathain sept of Galway, shares the tincture of the de Burgh coat of arms, thus showing a de Burgh influence. The demi lion rampant may also represent a de Burgh influence.


Ui Fiachrach Aidhne


The checky shield of argent and gules is the same as that of the O’Lorcain sept of the Uí Máine, of County Galway, as well as being displayed on the shield and crest of Clan Breasail, also of the Uí Máine.

The Ó Lorcáin families of East Galway are actually descendants of the princes of the Uí Máine and Síol Anmhchada area of County Galway. The territory they occupied was known as Uí Máine in the old Gaelic days; named for King Máine Mór (Maine the Great), a son of King Niall of the Nine Hostages. This is the area still referred to as Hy Many, it was ruled by the O’Kellys.

Breasail was a son of Máine Mór, who has also been referred to as Maine of the Chessboards. This pattern - Checky, argent and gules - is of great antiquity in Ireland.


Uí Máine

 


Further, the septs of the Ó Catháins and Ó Lorcáins and Clan Breasail were all located in the barony of Loughrea.

The town dates from 1236, when the Anglo-Norman Knight Richard Mór de Burgh “The Great Lord of Connaught” built a castle there. Loughrea, like most of Connaught, is linked with the fortunes of the powerful de Burgh family. The founder of this house, William de Burgh or ‘William the Conqueror’ as he became known had obtained a grant of land in Munster. During the reign of Richard 1, Prince John made a speculative grant of the whole or part of Connaught to William de Burgh. At the time it was the property of Roderic O’Connor, the High King of Ireland and so the de Burghs had first to conquer and then fight to retain the land.

William’s son Richard enclosed the town of Galway and under him it was settled by the Norman families, the ‘Tribes’ of Galway. While he had castles at Meelick on the Shannon, Galway and Portumna, his principal manor was at Loughrea.

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