The Arms of the Genealogical Society of Ireland depicted above were formally presented to the Society at a Civic Reception on July 23rd 2001 in the County Hall, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
At that handing over of the Letters Patent, the then Chief Herald of Ireland, Brendan O Donoghue outlined the significance of the Arms as follows. As much of the genealogist’s work involves the examination of documents of various kinds, two scrolls in saltire were selected as the principal charge, or element, in the GSI shield. The scrolls are banded vert, as green is the colour peculiarly associated with Ireland. The tinctures (or colours) azure and or, or in today’s language, blue and gold – the colours of the State – are used on the shield and there is also what the heralds describe as a bordure treffly which is reminiscent of shamrocks, another patently Irish symbol.
Because the use of a tree as an emblem by genealogical societies is so common, an effort was made in this case to devise an appropriate variation. In the event, taking account of the fact that the late O Conor Don was closely associated with the Society, it was decided to include a sprig of oak on the shield as a reference to the O Conor arms. And beneath the shield, is the motto: Cuimhnigí ar Ár Sinnsir, which of course speaks for itself. (Remember Our Ancestors)
The Arms of the Society are beautifully set in gold on the Chain of Office worn by the Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of the Society which was a gift to the Society by Mr. Pat Shannon of Facet Jewellers of Dún Laoghaire.
In addition to the shield, the Society requested and has been granted a badge to be used by its members. The design here is a rope formed into a trefoil which, in heraldry, is known as a Hungerford knot. In this case, the rope terminates in two acorns.
The letters patent include a banner, repeating the main elements of the shield. This is very much in keeping with the formula traditionally used in the grant of arms which states that the arms may be used on shield or banner.
(Pictured above, Mr. Brendan O’Donoghue, Chief Herald of Ireland presenting the Letters Patent to Mr. Rory Stanley, Cathaoirleach of the Society on July 23rd 2001)
The work of devising the GSI arms was carried out by Micheál Ó Comáin, consultant herald at the Genealogical Office, and the painting by hand of the arms and letters patent on vellum was done by Philip Mackey, one of our herald-painters.
(Pictured above from left, Mr. Mícheál Ó Comáin, Consulting Herald at the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland, Mr. Rory Stanley, Cathaoirleach of the Society and Philip Mackey, Heraldic Artist)
As the only genealogical organisation in Ireland to have such a grant at that time, the Letters Patent were proudly on display at the National Library during the exhibition hosted to mark the holding of the International Congress of Heraldic & Genealogical Sciences in Dublin Castle in 2002. Indeed, since then they have appeared in “The Complete Book of Heraldry” by Stephen Slater (ISBN 0-7548-1062-3) as a fine example of a modern Grant of Arms by the Chief Herald of Ireland (page 245).
The grant of the Heraldic Badge described above was made possible by the kind generosity of Barbara Mungovan Koch, MGSI in memory of her late father Joseph Mungovan, MGSI. This badge is now referred to as the “Mungovan Badge” and is carried on our Membership Cards. It is this Heraldic Badge that now adorns the medallion that has been once again beautifully crafted by Facet Jewellers in Dún Laoghaire for the new Chain of Office for the President of the Society.
The President of the Society, Mr. Tony McCarthy, MA, FGSI, was invested with this new Chain of Office at a ceremony held in the historic Monkstown Parish Church, Co. Dublin on October 25th 2005 – see below. Mr. McCarthy is only the second person to hold the office of President of the Society since its foundation 1990 and succeeds Denis, O Conor Don who died in 2000.
This ceremony was a celebration for the Society, its members and friends as it provided an opportunity to reflect on its many achievements since the foundation of the Society in 1990.
At the time, the Society was the only genealogical organisation in Ireland to have a Grant of Arms and, as such, our Members are very proud of this achievement.