Family History: Crest and Motto
Crest top of helmet,
“Cor unum, via una”,
Interpretation and General Discussion
The above crest, also used as part of the website banner (see at top-left of the webpage), is a modern-day rendering of the Nolan family crest created by James Joseph Nolan of New York. The earliest known rendering of the Nolan family crest first appeared along the edge of an ornamented map of the city of Galway presented to Charles II soon after his restoration as king in the early 1660s.
The motto "Cor unum via una" was only added to the coat of arms much later as part of a granting of arms to the Nolan family of Ballinderry and can loosely be interpreted to mean that, as we journey together as a people, we strive to be of one heart, one spirit.
The process of creating coats of arms (also often called family crests) began in the eight and ninth centuries and was well-established when the Anglo-Normans came to Ireland in the 12th century. Even though the motto associated with the family crest is relatively clear, it is difficult to attach precise meaning to the symbols used in the family's coat of arms. Following is the heraldic interpretation, based upon tradition, of the colours and symbols used in the family's Coat of Arms:
Argent (silver, white) - a symbol for sincerity and nobility
Gules (red) - a symbol for courage and creativity
Cross - a symbol of association with Christianity and,
possibly, an involvement in the Crusades
Lion Passant - a lion with paw raised in defense indicating that the family may have been knighted; on this point, it is interesting to note that the battle banner of Richard-the-Lionheart during the Crusades consisted of three Lion Passant, one on top of the other.
Martlet - a swallow-like bird; in Ireland, a symbol for perpetual movement the martlet was also used in heraldry to indicate that a family had been dispossessed; more generally, it is also the sign of a fourth son
Sword - a symbol for military virtue, the sword was the predominant weapon of the knight for most of the period from the 9th century to the end of the 15th century
Helmet - a symbol for wise defense.