The three main devices (symbols) in the O’Leary blazon are the talbot, boar and lizard. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, argent and gules .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”6. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 7. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.8.
Many breeds of dog appear in coats of arms, reflecting their status as man’s closet companion. The talbot is a hunting dog akin to a terrier, and usually illustrated in a lifelike style and eager pose. 9 In common with the other heraldic dogs, Wade suggests that their presence should suggest “courage, vigilance and loyal fidelity”. 10 Others might say we need look no further than a pleasure in the hunt and the affection for this sturdy breed.
In the middle ages, the wild boar, a far more fearsome creature than its domesticated relative, the pig was a much more commonly seen animal than today. It was also known as a sanglier. 11 It can appear in many of the same poses that we see for the lion, but has its own (easily imagined!) position known as enraged! 12 We should not be surprised then that this “fierce combatant” is said to be associated with the warrior. 13
In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? Nevertheless, real animals 14 are perhaps one of the most common sights on coats of arms, especially animals of European origin. The lizard Is a typical example of these.