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City Arms



Azure, on waves of the sea three barges

in pale Or.

Crest: a lion sejant, supporting an Irish

harp Or.

Supporters: Dexter, a lion Or, sinister,

a dolphin argent

Motto: Urbs Intacta Manet

This was the Chief Herald’s specification, sought by the Corporation in 1953, of the Watertord City Arms in full achievement. It does not conform exactly to the Arms that had been in use up to that time. These latter had in the chief, or upper part of the Shield, three lions, passant gardant, in pale: the three ships occupied, then, only the lower part of the Shield. The fact is, however, that the lions never really belonged on Waterford's Arms. They first appeared, and without explanation, in the reign of Elizabeth I and remained. But Waterford's Arms go back much further than Elizabeth I, further even than the capture, in 1461, of three galleys from the O'Driscolls of County Cork, an event that local historians have quoted as giving rise to the Arms. How their theory, first advanced in 1824, came to be accepted without the support of more satisfying evidence can only he described as mystifying.  

  The real position is that the three ships have been used since earliest times as the traditional symbol of Waterford's importance in the maritime world. This is borne out by the unmistakable representations on the true Arms, containing the ships alone, which appear in Waterford's earliest Charters—having been copied onto them from the illuminated petitions sent from Waterford 'praying' for the grant of the Charters. The design was first used to preface the great Charter Roll of Richard II, executed in Waterford in 1394, three quarters of a century before the O'Driscoll engagement. Much later in the charters of Henry VIII (1510), Edward VI (1548) and Philip and Mary (1556), the Shield containing the ships was still in evidence. That this escutcheon was the original and correct representation of the Waterford City Arms, there is no doubt.

  The motto Urbs Intacta Manet was conferred by Henry VII in 1497 in recognition of the City's resistance to the Pretenders, Lambert Simnel anal Perkin Warbeck, during his reign.

  In 1950, to mark and commemorate the Holy Year, the Corporation decided to replace the crest with a cross.

 - Extracted from Waterford, A Municipal Directory.

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