IRELAND. Azure, a harp or, stringed argent. Crest — On a wreath of the colours (or and azure) a tower triple-towered or, from the portal a hart springing argent, attired and unguled, also or. (Refer to Great Britain and Ireland.)
At the present time the crest is universally quoted with the hart "springing," and it was so blazoned in the Royal Warrant of King George III. The earliest record in the College of Arms, however, distinctly shows the hart
" lodged," and it is interesting to trace through the different drawings how, through " indifferent drawing," the position of the animal has been altered. The following is taken intact from Burke's " General Armory " : —
" Ireland, Kingdom of — Az. a harp or, stringed ar. The ancient arms of the kingdom after the invasion of 1 172 were, ' Az. three crowns or.' [These are now the arms of the Province of Munster. — Ed.] This was the coat of St Edmund, and it is possible the Anglo-Norman invaders, who were arrayed under the banners of St George and St Edmund, introduced the bearings of the latter saint as the ensigns of their new conquest. When Richard II. created Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Duke of Ireland, he gave him as a coat of augmentation the arms of Ireland, viz., ' Az. three crowns or.' Henry VIII. relinquished the old arms for the ' harp ' when he declared himself King 01 Ireland, from an apprehension, it is said, that the three crowns might be taken for the triple tiara of the Pope. Since James I. introduced the arms of Ireland among the quarterings of the Royal achievement, the bearing has been ' Az. a harp or, stringed an' From a MS. in the handwriting of Sir William Le Neve, Clarenceux, it appears, on the authority of Sir William Segar, Garter, that 'Ye three crowns are ye antientarms of Ireland, the harp but an ancient badge,' and 'In ye tyme of Edward ye IVth a commission being to enquire the arms of Ireland, it was returned yt ye 3 crownes were the armes.' The same bearing appears on the reverse of ancient Irish coins. Another ancient coat, as recorded in Ulster's Office, is, Sa. a king sitting on his throne cross-legged, holding in his right hand a lily or. Crest — A tower triple-towered or, from the portal a hart springing ar. attired and hoofed gold. The badge, as settled at the Union with Great Britain, is the harp ensigned with the Imperial crown. A MS. in the British Museum, Add. MSS. 4814, f. 8, exhibits a banner on either side of the shield, viz., dexter, sa. a king enthroned in his chair of state with a sceptre in his right hand and his left leaning on a cushion all ar. ; sinister, gu. a house triplechimneyed, smoke issuant or, a stag in the port of the first, and a tree on the dexter side of the second."
For the following two paragraphs I am indebted to a small pamphlet published by Mr John Vinycomb: —
" At the accession of King James I. to the English throne, when the change in the Royal Arms was made, Sir William Segar relates that the Earl of Northampton, then Deputy Earl Marshal, observed that ' he had no affection for the change ; that for the adoption of the harp the best reason he could assign was that it resembled Ireland in being such an instrument that it required more cost to keep it in tune than it was worth.'
"Sir Arthur Chichester was re-appointed to the government of Ireland as
Lord Deputy, July 1613 ; it is stated that it was at his instigation the Harp of Ireland was first marshalled with the arms of the sister kingdoms upon the Irish currency, and in one form or another it has ever since continued to be impressed upon the coin of the realm. Some of the copper coins of Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth have, it is said, the three harps for Ireland upon the shield, as if undetermined whether to follow the triple or single representation of the device. A curious old seal of the port of Carrickfergus, dated 1605, has upon the shield three harps of the Brian Boru type."
A great deal of fuss has been made lately about " the uncrowned harp " of Irish notoriety, which is credited with some subtle connection with the " uncrowned king," or at any rate with that suppositious and clamoured-for state ol things in Ireland which is the "odds" of His Majesty and his executive. The ordinary harp of Ireland, as a moment's glance at a florin or half-crown will show, is not crowned ; the crown being simply added when the harp does duty off the shield as a "badge," as is or should be the case with all the national badges, save in the case of the dragon of Wales — Wales being only a Principality. The mistake probably occurs because the harp does duty both as a charge upon the escutcheon and as a badge. The " uncrowned harp upon a green flag " (which seems to have been made the subject of diplomatic (.■') inquiries in the House of Commons, in other words, " Vert, an Irish harp or, stringed argent," is simply the perfectly legitimate, authentic, and well-known coat-of-arms of the Province of Leinster. So that the so-called Irish Republican party must invent a design very original and different if they want anything distinctive from the authorised emblems. Even the shamrock (under the name of the trefoil) is ranked among the " legitimist" and legitimate signs. Might I suggest as something widely distinct from the Irish regulation symbols, and yet appropriate, the following : Sable, two bones in saltire, surmounted by a morthead argent .■"
Original Source bookofpublicarms00foxd_djvu.txt near line 13363.