The original bronze seal bearing the Mullingar Arms dating, from c. 1700, was found by a labourer and eventually found it’s way to the Royal Historical and Archaeological Society of Ireland. In a report of their proceedings in October of that year (Vol. 4, 4th series) their deliverations on the seal were as follows:-
‘’The central object is a water-wheel, the rye mill-wheel of St Colman of Lynn, beneath and archway; under which water is flowing. Immediately above this is an implement resembling a square beetle, with a diapered pattern which washer-women use, but equally resembles a heckle for teasing or tearing flax or carding blankets. On the sinister side of the arch is an embattled tower, out of which issues a demi-griffen rampant, while on the dexter side is what may be called a church-spire, with a bird resting on the cross, and beneath is a tented field with pennant flying. Around is the legend ‘’Sigillum Commune de Mollinger’’ which is basically ‘’the seal of the town of Mullingar’’. Mullin is the shaft of a mill-wheel and gar, forming the final syllable, is literally to cut, reft or tear. Thus the seal of Mullingar shows the water-wheel and hackle as chief symbols of the staple trade of the town at that time’’.
Further investigations have shown that the demi-griffin, astride on embattled tower, is the arms of one Thomas Petit of the manor of Mullingar, situate at Irishtown. Pettit was alive in 1611 and to this day there is a townland of Pettiswood known to be part of his lands. He owned two mills, the Moate and the Tuck. The bird above the church-spire was thought to be symbolic of the monastic settlements in the area, of which there were three, the Priory of St. Mary, founded in 1227 by Ralph Petyt, Bishop of Meath, for the Canons Regular of St. Augustine; the Dominican Friary, founded in 1237 by the Nugent family and the Order of St. Francis, founded in 1622. The pennants and the tents would represent the importance of Mullingar as a military centre through the ages. The crown would be symbolic of the Ard-Ri, Malachy of the Cro-Innis Lough Ennel, who vanquished the Dane Turgesius in Lough Owel. The mill-river under the wheel is th eBrosna, formerly called the Golden Arm.
The Plaque on display was presented to the Mullingar Branch Library on 6th January 1959 by Dr. Trevor Winckworth, Oliver Plunkett Street, Mullingar.
The Coat of Arms is based on the ancient seal of Mullingar. This seal belonged to the Corporation which was established in Anglo-Norman times when Mullingar was an important town of the Pale. The Corporation was dissolved in 1661 by Charles II when all the corporate lands were confiscated and given to Sir Arthur Forbes, ancestor of the Earl of Granard
The griffin or demi-griffin, as it is also referred to, comes from the coat of arms of one Thomas Pettit and the manor of Mullingar, situate at Irishtown. He was alive in 1611 and to this day there is the townland of Pettitiswood, known to be part of his lands.
The water-wheel of St. Coman of Lynn or rye mill-wheel as it is also described is the central feature of the design.
The cockatrice comes from the coat of arms of the Nugent family and establishes the link with the Dominican Friary founded in 1237 by the family.
These are symbols associated with mills and milling and depict the channelling of the water for the purpose of driving the mill wheel.
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