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Irish Culture/meaning of symbols


sword and sheild brooch
sword and sheild brooc  

sword and sheild brooch
sword and sheild brooc  
I recently inherited a piece of jewlery from a relative in northern ireland and im not sure what the symbols mean and where it has come from, can you help please.

Dear Karen,

A curve ball from Northern Ireland.
Sword and shield brooches or pins are more common in Scotland than in Northern Ireland, but many Northern Irish trace their
roots to Scotland.
So the scabbard is Arthurian in origin in so far as the cross-hatching was intended to protect the warrior from death.
It is not Celtic per se and there is no interweaving of the lines, unless my eyes deceive me.
The armorial design on the shield appears to be a crest; it cannot be easily seen because it is obscured by the overlay of the sword.
So, you might well look at MacLysaght's great work on family crests to determine whether this is indeed a family crest.

I have a sense that this pin was used, perhaps, on a kilt; and the tartan pattern on the kilt with which this item of jewelry was used
would give you an idea, perhaps, of the clan represented by the engraving on the shield.

Using your deceased relative's last name to initiate this search might be useful.

Wear it in good health, it was given to you as a sign of origin and for luck.


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William D. McCann


Any questions concerning Irish history, culture, anthropology, or literature.


M.A. 2006 National University of Ireland, Honors Publications: The Starship of Bru Na Boinne, Bohemian Quarterly, 2004

American Ireland Fund Bohemian Club


A.B., University of California Berkeley, Hons. J.D., Hastings College of the Law M.A., National University of Ireland, Galway

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