The Red Hand

What’s up with the Red Hand? I recently sent to you a patch with the Red Hand on it. When you travel Ireland and especially Northern Ireland, you see the Red Hand everywhere.  There are a multitude of stories about how the symbol came to be. I found the most common attribution to be from the family O’Neil. Can you see the red hand on the O’Neil family crest?

I liked one of the stories very much and thought you would find it to be interesting.  Over 2,500 years ago the Galacian King of Spain, Milesius, sent his 3 sons Ir, Heber,and Heremon to invade and conquer Ireland. He told them that the first one to lay a hand on the land would lay claim to the country. The story goes that the three brothers raced to the land on separate ships and when one saw he was going to lose the race, he cut off his hand with a sword and threw it on to the land. The red hand continued to be used on the family crest and flags to show the lineage of family power.

Today the Red Hand is seen everywhere and not just with one line of family. Family lineage meant a lot in those days. Kingdoms were handed down to the first sons and sometimes daughters in many countries. There are countries today that have a similar inheritance of power and position. We hear a lot about Korea these days.  North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un is the son of the Kim Jong-il, the last leader. To insure his position he has had relatives that may pose a threat to his position killed. A more peaceful transition of power through the family will occur when Queen Elizabeth of England dies.  One of her family members will be crowned the King of England. Her son, Prince Charles is next in line for the throne. The next in line for the throne after Prince Charles is his son, Prince William and his children after that. This is the way it has been done for a very long time.

If you watch international sports you may see the red hand again. When you see it you will know at least one story of the origin. If you care to explore, you can find many more explanations of its beginning and meaning. If you are curious – happy hunting!