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.