The original Gaelic view was that Clan land belongs to the whole tribe. Some believe that this implies that a familys arms would also belong to all members of that family. That is not the case, because Gaelic leaders did not actually possess arms in ancient times. The terms family crests or clan arms or sept arms remain an anathma in Anglo-Norman Irish heraldry, because arms were only granted to an individual noble and his descendants. Not to a whole family group.

The idea of coats of arms was first imported to Ireland by Anglo-Norman invaders. The 1096 Norman Crusade introduced full body armor, so they utilized arms for recognition purposes on the battlefield. After the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1167 - 1172, the English  began to grant arms to noble Irish leaders as they saw fit, for services rendered. The time of the Norman invasion of Ireland was the apex of the power of Boylan Kings in Dartraighe. It is documented that the Boylans initially fought the English, but at some later stage, a Boylan Lord must have supported the English well enough to have been granted his own individual arms.

The first Irish Chief Herald, Edward MacLysaght was appointed in 1943. He published Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins. Boylan arms are first mentioned directly in the introduction on page 11. Readers of his work will note that the science of heraldry uses very particular terminology.

Exactly which bold Boylan King of Dartry was granted the eagle arms (perhaps around AD 1200 to 1300) is lost in antiquity and remains undocumented. This means that no living Boylan individual has a heraldic right to officially bear the Boylan arms as an individual on his silver ware, stationary and the like. Luckily, hanging a painting of Boylan arms on your wall for historic purposes is an accepted practice and will neither bring the wrath of the Clan OBoylan nor of the Chief Herald of Ireland upon you.

Source: Ryan Boylan

Hedgelock and Breton Woods version

German National Eagle

public domain

The OBoylan coat of Arms recognized by most branches of the Clan is an eagle facing left, with shield, helmet and fleur added at a much later date. We know it is an eagle because the beak is hooked. (Ravens have straight beaks...) The similarity of the head, body, feet and tail to the German national eagle is purely coincidental.

The Moriartys of Co. Kerry have an eagle similar to ours. Norman French Clans like the Joyce of Mayo/Galway and the Brownes and the Bouillands of Gaen, France sport a double headed eagle. The Flanagans (a neighbor clan of the Boylans in Co. Monaghan) have a royal oak tree which links them (and us by proximity) tightly to the ancient Connors(Connaghta).

Don Boylans version

This one with the retro spelling is from Ryan Boylan

George W.  Boylan

Scott Boylan of Colorado has been working on a version the Boylan arms in Photoshop and has donated the three pics below to the Boylan clan under the creative commons license. This means that you are free to rightmouse and copy the crests for private internal use. Tip - great for Windows Wallpaper. Many THANKS to Scott for this clan-friendly deed. Please bear in mind that you are not authorized to use the arms that were granted to our ancestor of Clan OBoylan externally on stationary or similar use. However we think it is great if you identify with the Clan! Please like and follow William Henry Boylan on facebook to demonstrate your Clan affiliation.

Other arms of interest to the Hedgelock Boylans:

Dunham Arms

Voorhees Arms

Hedgelock Symbol

3 stars and wreath for three brothers