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The Enfield is a fictitious creature sometimes used in heraldry, having the head of a fox, the chest of a greyhound, the body of a lion, the hindquarters and tail of a wolf, and forelegs like an eagle's talons.

It is used as an emblem by some organisations in Enfield, London (for example, on the arms of the London Borough of Enfield and on the badges of Chace Community School, Enfield Ignatians R.F.C and of the football clubs Enfield (1893) F.C. and Enfield Town F.C.), but it is not sure whether it has any historic connection with the town. Its roots may be Irish.

The beast was on the coat of arms of the Municipal Borough of Enfield, which was amalgamated with the Municipal Borough of Edmonton and the Municipal Borough of Southgate to form the London Borough of Enfield.

The Enfield is a rare heraldic mythical beast confined in its earliest apparitions in heraldic symbolism as the crest of the armorial bearing of the O'Ceallaigh (O'Kelly) Septs of Ireland. Shown is the Sept of the O'Ceallaighs of Uí Maine, the most documented O'Kelly sept in early Irish written history and annals. The enfield appears in The Book of O'Kellys — written in 1394AD, named the Book of O'Kellys (or the Book of Ui Maine), it is amongst Ireland's finest ancient manuscripts and is held as an Irish national treasure.

The coat of arms of the O'Kellys of Hy-Many, featuring an Enfield on the crest

There are other O'Kelly branch Armorial Bearings that have slight differences. However, one thing that they all have in common is the green Enfield as their crest sitting aloof a golden crown with three crests and a base of studded jewels.

The ancient tradition among the O'Kellys is that they have borne this fabulous animal since the days of the chieftain Tadhg Mor O'Kelly who fell "fighting like a wolf dog" on the side of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, at the victorious Viking Battle of Clontarf in 1014AD, against the Danes. When Tadhg Mor fell this mythical beast issued from the nearby sea to protect the dead body of the chief until it was retrieved for proper burial by his O'Kelly kinsmen.

One commonly held heraldic definition of an Enfield [1] is: A most extraordinary creature, it is composed as follows; the head of a fox, the chest of an elephant, the mane of a horse, the forelegs of an eagle , the body and hind legs of a hound , and the tail of a lion.

However, in an 1859 journal [2] discussing the discovery of a bronze ancient (c.1400's AD) O'Kelly hand wax seal uncovered 20ft beneath a bog on an excavation project, considerable research was done on the origins of the O'Kelly Enfield on the seal, Viz.:---

"I have searched in several works on heraldry for a description of the Enfield, but without success. It does not appear to be a cognizance of much in use, and it does not appear to be found in Gwillam's "Display of Heraldry" folio: not even in Cap 26 of that book, which chapter treats solely of fictitious creatures, supposed to be compounded of different kinds and natures, such as Griffons, Wiverns, dragons, cockatrices, harpies, mermaids. Neither is the term enfield given or explained in Crossley's "Signification of things borne in Heraldry". To my gifted friend, Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, I, however am indebted for the following definition of this composite fabulous creature, viz. :-- "The Enfield is a heraldic animal, having the head of a fox, the breast feathered as an eagle's, the foreclaws also of an eagle; the remainder of the body that of a wolf." It follows from such description that the Enfield, being compounded of the fox, eagle, and wolf, indicated that he, by whom it was borne, was reputed to possess the subtlety and cunning of the first named beast; the magnanimity and fortitude, with the honour, labor, industry, and diligence, in great manners, of the eagle; and the fierceness of the wolf."

The animal is sculptured on many old (c.1375–1650) tombstones of the O'Kelly family in the Abbey of Kilconnell (founded c.1353AD), and in the old church of Cloonkeen.

External links

Notes

  1. ^ The Enfield Society - notes and queries
  2. ^ The Journal of the Kilkenny and southeast of Ireland archaeological society, Vol II, 1858–1859, Dublin, University Press, McGlashan & Gill, p448–449,







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