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Family Crests of Ireland

Family crests of Ireland were created in order to distinguish one clan or family from another. These crests were worn and adorned on many things so other people were able to identify which family you belonged to. Every single crest was different in shape, color, size, and design so no crest could be confused with another. Crests became important as clans or families grew and expanded throughout the country.

Family Crests of Ireland

Family Crests of Ireland

One of the most popular family crests of Ireland was the Murphy family crest. The Murphy family crest includes those with the surnames Murphy, Morchoe, O'Murphy, Murfie, Murfree, Morfie, Morfey, and a number of other various spellings of Murphy that have been derived over the years.

Two distinct crests are representative of the Murphy surname. The first crest is usually yellow and green in color with a small shield in the middle. On the shield there is a small picture of a tree. Above the shield is a helmet done in silver and gold. Extending out from the middle of the shield and draping down to either side are yellow and green feathery leaves. Above the helmet is a small picture of a red lion with a white ribbon bearing the inscription "fortis et hospitalis," meaning brave and hospitable. The second crest that represents the Murphy family is similar to the first, but it appears in red and white instead of green and gold or yellow.

The Kelly Family Crest

Another of the popular family crests of Ireland is that of the Kelly clan. The Kelly family crest includes those with the surnames Kelly, O'Kelly, and McKelly to name a few examples.

The Kelly family crest is blue and green in color with two white lions to either side of a castle turret. The lions are holding two chains, one each in their paws to either side of the turret. Above the middle of the blue shield is a white knight's helmet. Extending over the top of the helmet from the center and draping down the sides of the shield, there are green and blue feathery leaf-like designs. Above the center of the helmet there is a small picture of a green dog-like creature standing on the top of a gold crown. Below the shield at the bottom of the crest is a green and blue ribbon. Written in white in the center of the ribbon is the family motto "Turris fortis mihi dues," which means God is my Tower of Strength.

The O'Sullivan Family Crest

Finally, the third most popular family crest of Ireland is for the O'Sullivan clan. The O'Sullivan family crest includes those with the surnames of O'Sullivan and Sullivan to name just a few. The O'Sullivan family name is divided into two different crests depending on the lineage of the name.

The first O'Sullivan family crest is done in the colors of green, yellow/gold, white, silver, and red. This crest represents the family line from the O'Sullivan Mor. The crest has a shield in the middle separated into four parts, bearing two red lions in the top two squares. Between the two red lions is a green snake wrapped around a sword held by a gloved red hand. The sword is pointed upward into a silver knight's helmet located in the center top of the shield. Above the helmet is a crown adorned with red and green jewels. Sitting on top of the crown is a brown bird with a red belly holding an olive branch in its beak. From both sides of the helmet, there are green and yellow/gold ribbons that flow down from the center and to either side of the shield. On the bottom two sections of the shield there is a deer or stag to the right and a boar to the left. Directly under the shield is a gold ribbon connected to the shield's center point. In the center of the gold ribbon in black writing is the family motto "Lamh foistenach abu," which translates to mean "What we gained by conquest we secure by clemency."

The second coat of arms for the O'Sullivan family represents those who are recognized descendants of the Beare clan. The family motto is the same as the Mor, however, the family crest is a bit different. The colors are changed to mostly black and grey but also include a shield in the center that is divided into four sections. On the shield, there is a boar that faces to the right at the top and another facing towards the left at the bottom. Atop the shield in the center is a knight's helmet and, sitting on top of the helmet in the center, is a green lizard.

Above the lizard is the same bird as the Mor clan crest, however, the bird is no longer pictured with the olive branch in its beak. The ribbon pattern from the center to the sides of the shield is the same but in different colors. The ribbon with the family motto remains in the same location.