The Rt. Rev. Lorenzo Casati, Bishop of Torcello, Orthodox
Metropoloa of Western Europe, Patriarchate of Kiev, writing
from this home in Palermo to the Irish Times awhile ago
deplored what he saw as the change in status of the office
of the Chief Herald of Ireland to that of an employee of
the National Library.
It had been the intention of the bishop, who was newly consecrated
and who has a following in this country, to apply for a
grant of arms to the Chief Herald, as is done by Roman
Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops and clergy of other
faiths throughout the whole of Ireland. It was the
bishops understanding that if the re-organisation
is finalised that arms granted by the National Library would
have no legal standing, and consequently anyone wishing
to acquire arms would have to apply to a Herald in England.
Historically, the office of Ireland King of Arms is first
found documented in 1370, and in the 16th century Edward
VI confirmed the office as Ulster King of Arms, and so it
remained until the new constitution of 1937 was implemented.
Then while the Ulster King of Arms retained status in the
six counties, the Republic in 1943 was given a Chief Herald
of Ireland in the Genealogical Office, and which was attached
to the National Library. However, the question of whether
the Genealogical Office was established hundreds of years
ago or just decades ago had become a tendentious question,
and the subject of much correspondence in the newspapers.
Nowadays the Genealogical Office is known to many more people
than in the past as both natives and exiles of this island
seek to unravel their family histories, and while few of
them would be interested in acquiring arms, there is nevertheless
a constant requirement for arms from individuals, state
institutions and corporate bodies.
A task undertaken by the Chief Herald fifty years ago was
the establishment of a register of Chiefs of the Name, to
regularise the use of Gaelic chiefly designations, as Dr.
Edward MacLysaght, then Chief Herald quipped the Mac
This or the O That. Today there are twenty Chiefs
of the Name recognised, of whom the best known is probably
Another popular misconception on which the herald may adjudicate
is the use of Gaelic Familys arms by everyone of the
name, for example every Murphy displaying the arms of The
OMorchoe; arms are correctly used only by the descendants
of a man granted arms, though Dr. Mac Lysaght himself said
that there are, however, a number of coats of arms
on record which by custom are regarded as appertaining to
all members of a sept.
The persual of tomes on the subjects of arms, peerage, baronetage
and landed gentry shows that long ago in county Kildare
there were many holders of arms. In 1768 there were three
resident peers, the Duke of Leinster with seats at Carton,
Dullardstown and Kildare House, Dublin; the Earl of Drogheda
at Monasterevan, and Viscout Allen at Punchestown and Stillorgan,
county Dublin. Extinct and dormant arms in 1842 included
those of Allen of St. Wolstans, Eustace of Castlemartin,
Talbot of Carton and Sonds (Sands) of Blackhall.
The Bishop of Kildare had arms, as did many of the county
families. At the end of the 19th century they included the
landed families of Clements of Killadoon, de Burgh of Oldtown,
Mansfield of Morristown Lattin, Robertson-Eustace of Robertstown,
Tickell of Carnolway, Conolly of Castletown, Borrowes of
Gilltown, Aylmer of Courtown, Hendrick-Aylmer of Kerdiffstown,
and Wogan-Browne of Castle Browne, as well as Finny of Leixlip,
de Courcy-Wheeler of Robertstown, Burdett of Coolfin and
Ballymany, Kennedy of Baronrath, OConnor-Henchy of
Stonebrook, Shackleton of Ballitore, Greene of Millbrook
and Hallahoise, and Cooke-Trench of Millicent.
Of those families only a few still reside here; but the
arms with the crest of a lion sitting, of the vanished borrowes,
decorating their pyramidal sepulchre at Gilltown are a reminder
of the impermanence of all earthly things.
Perhaps the best known Coat of Arms to readers of this paper
are those of the County. The symbols on the shield are:
St. Brigids Cross and an oak leaf, the origin of the
name Cill Dara; a harp to represent the Laighnean or Leinster
people; a horses head, reflecting the long association
of the race horse with the county; the red saltire recalls
the Fitzgeralds, the most significant family in the history
of Kildare. The swords remind us of the wars of long ago,
and of the long established presence of the military here
Spirit and Courage is the motto.
Courtesy of the Leinster Leader