Limerick City Confirms Its Right To Armorial Bearings (Coat of Arms)

Thursday, May 28th 2009


The official coat of arms of the City of Limerick has been confirmed at an historic ceremony that took place today.


The Office of the Chief Herald designed the arms that have been granted and Chief Herald, Fergus Gillespie formally confirmed on the City Council its right to Armorial Bearings.


Mr Gillespie read the proclamation in Irish and in English and presented the Letters Patent, the document vesting rights to the use of the arms in Limerick City Council, to His Worship the Mayor, Cllr John Gilligan to the sounds of trumpet fanfare.


Limerick City Manager Tom Mackey, members of Limerick City Council and the Chief Herald, Fergus Gillespie wore traditional robes for the formal ceremony. Among the invited guests were The Right Reverend Trevor Williams, Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe; Judge Tom O’Donnell; Tom Ryan, Honorary Freeman of Limerick and former City Mayors.


The Arms of the City of Limerick that had been in use for hundreds of years were not heraldically correct. Limerick has never had an official coat of arms until Limerick City Council applied to have a grant of arms confirmed.


“The original coat of arms for the city which has been used since at least the seventeenth century was unregistered and so unprotected from unofficial use,” explained Mayor of Limerick, Cllr John Gilligan.

“So we applied to the Chief Herald of Ireland to confirm the Council in its right to arms on the basis of long use. I’m honoured and delighted to receive the document vesting rights to the use of the coat of arms on behalf of the people of Limerick.”


The arms which have been confirmed to Limerick City Council show a castle with two towers and the portcullis raised.

The shield is of the 14th century. The motto “Urbs Antiqua Fuit Studiisque Asperrima Belli” which means “An ancient city well versed in the arts of war” surrounds the shield.


Fergus Gillespie, the Chief Herald is the holder of the oldest state office, which in its present form has been in existence since 1552.

The function of the Chief Herald is to devise coats of arms, grant them by means of letters patent and record them in the Register of Arms in his office.


The office is known internationally for the high standard of heraldry produced and for its outstanding design continuing a tradition of painting and drawing unbroken for more than four and a half centuries.


Limerick City Council’s document is engrossed on calf vellum and the conditions of the grant appear in both the Irish and English languages.

A painting of the arms also appears on the document as well as being shown in the form of a banner which when flown will proclaim the presence of the Council.


For further information, please contact



Laura Ryan
Communications Officer
Limerick City and County Council
Phone: 061-407100
email: laura.ryan@limerick.ie


Last update:19/02/2014

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