Irish clans are traditional family or kinship groupings that share a common surname and heritage. The Irish last names we bear so proudly are handed down to us from our fathers. So, I thought Father's Day would be the perfect time to explore our Irish clans and crests.
And to really help us celebrate Father's Day, Brendan McCarey of Painted Clans, an artist based in County Monaghan, is offering a wonderful framed, single Irish crest, piece of artwork for one lucky reader to win.
But before I share the details of this fabulous prize and how to enter the giveaway, let's delve into a little bit of Irish clan history.
Ancient Irish Clanns or Clans:
In ancient times, Irish society was organized around clanns, or large family groupings sharing kinship. The Irish word for family is clann (pronounced clah-nn).
Larger clann groupings grew to be more powerful than others through war, politics, talking, bartering, one-up-manship, divilment, cunning and whatever on God's good earth it took to get ahead in ancient days.
Leaders of some of these clans were given the status of royalty in Gaelic Ireland, like the O'Briens of Munster, the O'Conor's of Connacht, the O'Neills of Ulster and the Kavanaghs of Leinster.
A Ceann Fine (pronounced Qu-owh-n Finn-eh) or “head of family” was designated to lead each family grouping.
Larger clans were led by a Taoiseach (pronounced Tee-shock) or Chief. The leader of Ireland's parliament, the Dáil (pronounced Dawl) holds this title in modern Ireland.
Smaller clans were led by Chieftains. Brehon Law, the ancient legal system of Ireland, nominated each leader of an Irish clan as the custodian of their kinsfolk and responsible for protecting the clan and its property.
Now these clans did not consist of blood relatives alone. Ruled by a single lord or leader, the fortunes of these clans waxed and waned with time, and smaller, less powerful clans were at times amalgamated into larger, more powerful clans.
Negotiations were held to iron out the terms of these familial consolidations, strategic alliances and the co-mingling of lands and resources to ensure survival. I'm sure there was many a heated argument forging the way forward with family, friends and foes.
As a result, Irish clans were not only composed of blood relatives, but also consisted of adopted and fostered clan members - those pledging allegiance to one chief, and willing to assume the clan name.
This system formed the basis of Irish society until the 17th century.
The Fall of the Irish Clans:
The first decade of the 17th century heralded the beginning of the end for the ancient Irish clans. The English re-conquest of Ireland marked the great destruction of Ireland's ancient Gaelic aristocracy and way of life.
In 1607 the great Chiefs of Ulster, Ó Neill, Ó Donnell and Maguire, fled Ireland to seek assistance in Spain. They were never to return.
After this Flight of the Earls, the English ruled with an iron fist, centralizing government for the entire island, and disarming the wild Irish clans.
Re-formation of the Ancient Irish Clans:
At the turn of the 20th century the Gaelic League worked tirelessly to rekindle an interest in Irish history and culture.
As a result a list of Irish Clans was created in the 1940's. An Irish surname or last name determines eligibility for clan membership.
These clans are organized in Ireland and throughout the world today, ensuring the spirit of the clans remains strong to this very day.
The Story Behind Painted Clans:
Brendan McCarey is a designer and artist based in Mullen Village in the beautiful rolling, drumlin hills of County Monaghan, Ireland. After studying Design and Communication in Derry and Germany, he returned to Ireland.
Painted Clans was born when Brendan created a unique, traditional and sentimental wedding gift for friends in Australia.
An old coat of arms plaque, which hung in his family's home, was inspiration for his handmade wedding gift.
He diligently researched his friends' family crests and sketched out his ideas. His work stirred his thirst for history, and a keen interest and pride in his own family story and emblem.
Upon completion of his wedding gift and masterful piece of art work, Painted Clans was born.
Introducing Painted Clans:
Brendan's exquisite works of art are custom, hand-painted, and contemporary Family Coats of Arms.
Each crest is researched and redesigned with a modern, minimalist style. While maintaining the original elements of each unique crest, these ancient Irish symbols are hand painted using fine acrylic paint, framed, embossed and signed. They're simple, yet stunning.
Perfect as wedding gifts, birthday or Christmas gifts, these works of art will become treasured family heirlooms.
But Brendan goes the extra mile, by sharing his research findings on the back of each art piece. There you will find an explanation of the family history depicted in the crest, plus further information on the meaning of each element found within the crest.
These unique, personalized pieces of historical and family art would be treasured by any Irish or Irish American Dad.
Why I Love Painted Clans:
Family crests are a bridge to our past and Brendan's contemporary, modern family heraldry helps reconnect us to our roots.
Older designs may look outdated in the modern home, but the simple style and sleek frames of Brendan's art pieces are the perfect way to introduce new generations to their Irish clan heritage.
One lucky reader will win a single framed crest from Painted Clans, custom made and personalized to your needs. If you don't bear an Irish name or are unsure of the exact clan you hail from, then perhaps a county crest, or a provincial flag, would look lovely in your home.
The picture comes in a Black Matt frame or a White Limed frame with a 2" Minuet Mount.
If you do not wish to receive the frame, Brendan will supply the crest mounted without a frame.
To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Sunday June 26th, 2016.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration for your entry why not tell us about your Irish clan or county.
One winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Sunday June 26th, 2016, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
Thanks to everyone who supports this little giveaway by leaving a comment, and sharing it with family, friends and your Irish clans.
And a big thanks to Brendan for sponsoring this wonderful Painted Clan prize.
Happy Father's Day To All!
Update – Winner Chosen:
Good news. Our winner has been chosen using the randomized “Pick Giveaway Winner” WordPress plug-in.
Congratulations to …..
I’ll send you a quick e-mail to let you know you are our prize winner.
Thanks to everyone who joined in and entered this Irish American Mom giveaway.
And a big thank you to Brendan for sponsoring this prize and for introducing us to Painted Clans. Wishing him every success with this creative business, that is preserving an important piece of Irish family history.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
P.S. A Quick Disclosure: At the time of writing this post, Irish American Mom does NOT have a business relationship with Painted Clans. I love to hear from artists and creative people in Ireland and America, and wish to help them spread the word about their small businesses. A big thanks to Brendan McCarey for generously sponsoring a prize for one reader to win. Really appreciate it. Wishing him every success with this fabulous endeavor.
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