The three main devices (symbols) in the Sligo blazon are the falcon, sun and covered cup. The two main tinctures (colors) are or and gules.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”4. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 5. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).6
Birds of great variety occur throughout heraldry, at least in name 7. The falcon is a bird long associated with hunting and we need look no further than a liking for this pursuit for its presence on many early coats of arms. 8 We also find many of the accessories used in falconry depicted on arms, and a surprising number of terms from the art of falconry have found use in modern English idioms and the interested reader is recommended to search out the origins of the phrases hoodwinked and “cadging” a lift.
The sun was long used as a potent symbol before the advent of heraldry and brought some of that existing meaning with it. In conventional heraldry it is normally borne in its splendour, that is with a face and a large number of alternating straight and wavy rays. 9 It can also be seen issuing from behind clouds, and in some cases a demi or half sun coming from the base, reflecting either the dawn, or perhaps as it appears in the arms of WESTWORTH, with the sunset. 10
Cups of all kinds have been popular charges on coats of arms since at least the 14th century. 11 In appearance and description they range from simple drinking pots (GERIARE of Lincoln – Argent three drinking pots sable) to covered cups, more like chalices in appearance. 12. These were borne by the BUTLER family in reference to their name and Wade suggests that their appearance may also refer to holy communinion within the church. 13