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The Red Hand of the O'Neill's

I hope to give some insight on The Red Hand and the O'Neill family history

 
One of the many versons of the O'Neill Famliy crest

    The Uster flag with the Edwardian crown 

 
The Ulster flag with the Tudor crown


Todays flag of Ulster

The Red Hand of O'Neill, also known as Red Hand of Ulster and occasionally even as Red Hand of Ireland, is perhaps the most prominent symbol in the province of Ulster. The Red Hand of O'Neill is derived from the coat of arms from the Uá Niáll clan. The Uá Niáll, meaning Grandson of the Champion and later anglicised to O'Neill, have reigned over large parts of Ulster for at least two millennia.
Nowadays the symbolism of the Red Hand of O'Neill is completely ripped off its historical context. The symbol of an ancient Irish royal family is adopted by several
Loyalist movements.

Uá Niáll

It is commonly accepted that the O'Neill's are direct descendants of the mythological Milesians, thus the historical Gaels. This theory is supported by the most common legend regarding the origin of the Red Hand of O'Neill.
According to this legend two Milesian chiefs decided to settle their argument over a piece of land with a competition. They organised a boat race and the first who put his right hand on the shore would be the victor and owner of the land. One of them built up a lead and the laggard realised he had to use his wit. He came up with a drastic solution: with his sword he cut off his right hand and threw it on the shore. Literally single-handed he established a royal line and his descendants, the Uá Niáll, later anglicised to O'Neill, clan reigned over large parts of Ulster until Hugh O'Neill had to surrender to the English in 1603.

Some other elements of the coat of arms of the O'Neill are assumed to have a Milesian origin. The waves are supposed to symbolise the seas they had sailed and the salmon represent their journey.

I would like to thank www.triskelle.eu for most of this O'Neill family history
 
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