Mag Fhionnghaile clan Coat of Arms, like other Irish Coat of Arms, were originally displayed on banners and not shields. They were known as the clan Bratach or in English, their Flag/Banner/Standard. The
actual design or emblem is called in Irish Suaitheantas
(pronounced Soohantuss). The
Irish typically went into battle carrying their banners or flags
as their only sign of recognition. The Irish
shield for that matter NEVER incorporated symbols or signs, but
instead were round shaped, covered with leather and studded with
nails in a loose decorative form.
Irish have been carrying distinctive banners into battle well before
the Norman period. In fact, there are some indications that it went
back into pre-Roman times. The practice of identification during
warfare by way of banners etc. is nothing new and most cultures
indulged in such practices, in one way or another. With the Irish,
the typical banner or standard was usually a square shaped piece
of stiffened linen material with an additional stiffened border
(possibly fringed) of alternate colours around three sides. The
idea of a symbol put onto a shield was a Norman idea which passed
on to the English and then to the Irish. Some old symbols belonging to Irish clans
can be found during the 1500's and 1600's depicted on a typical
Norman/English shaped shield. This is no evidence of the use of
such shields among the native Irish however. These 'depictions'
of Irish designs on shields were simply a way of gaining English
'acceptance' and to appear 'civilised' by showing them in the English
Irish heraldry derives from the ancient battle signs. Many signs
found on Irish 'Coat of Arms' are distinctively Irish harking back
to ancient times. Symbols such as the Boar, the Stag, the Red Hand
etc. are very old. An account of the Battle of Magh Rath (in Co.
Down) from the year 637 AD (Annals of Tighearnach) make mention
of the battle standards of the Gaelic chieftains. Translated according
to Keating, we have the following..."For it is there read,
that the whole host/army was wont to be placed under the command
of one captain-in-chief, and that, under him, each division of his
force obeyed its own captain; and besides, that every captain of
these bore upon his standard his peculiar device or enzign".
The Irish word for device or enzign is Suaitheantas and
is known as such among the Gaels of Scotland who followed the Irish
manner by using banners/flags instead of the foreign shield.
The McGinley Coat of Arms is similar to that of the O'Donnells, which dates back to at least 1567 when it is shown depicted on John Goghe's Map of Ireland. Both clans show a red cross crosslet with a point at the bottom. While the O'Donnell version is shown being held by an arm, the McGinley version does not. The three black dots represent the three saints most associated with the McGinleys.
The red cross crosslet may be a developement of the Scottish McDonald symbol,
a clan who had strong links with the leadership in Donegal. However, Medieval
folklore accounts tells us that it was St Patrick who gave the red
cross symbol to Conall Gulban and therefore the symbol to his descendants.
The McGinleys also have their own war-cry... Clann
Mhig Fhionnghaile Abú... which means 'Clan McGinley forever'.
It has been known within the clan for at least two hundred years
and possibly much older as it follows the traditional Irish motif
found in the medieval period.
of the Name