Westmeath (county)

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COUNTY WESTMEATH

Coat of arms (crest) of Westmeath (county)

Official blazon

Per saltire azure end gules, in the fess point an annulet between two lions rampant and respecting each other all or, in chief a swan swimming and in base a Norse helmet both proper,with the Motto: Triat os triataib.

Origin/meaning

The arms were granted on August 7, 1968.

The swan in the upper azure field represents the legend of the Children of Lir, a classic fairytale of children turned into swans. The swan-shaped Lough Derravaragh, the supposed site of the transformation, is located in the north of the county. The charge in the lower azure field is a Norseman's helmet. It refers to Turgesius the Dane from whom Malachy II, King of Meath (a province which included the modern counties of Meath and Westmeath), stole a gold collar before drowning him in Lough Owel in 843 AD.

The lions rampant in the red quarters represent some of the old ruling families in the county. Three of these families, the Maelechlainns, the MacGeoghegans and the MacCauleys, each had three lions rampant in their coats of arms.

The shield is quartered diagonally with the area around the meeting point of the four fields united by a gold collar or ring. A symbol of union and fidelity, the ring also represents the central geographic location of the county in Ireland.

The azure upper and lower quarters represent the water of the more than ten lakes that give Westmeath its reputation as the Lakeland County of Ireland.

The motto "Triath os Triathaibh", i.e., "noble above nobility", is that of the High King of Ireland Tuathal Teachtmhar (obit 106 AD) who had a palace at Uisneach, reputed to be the geographic centre of the island of Ireland, about 15 kms west of the county seat of Mullingar. Stone structures are still visible.


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Literature : Information provided by the Westmeath Library; Register of grants