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Martello tower, photo by Erik Simpson

Heraldry in Ulysses

Important Arms and Crests for Joyce

Irish Arms and Crest, Hugo Gerhard Ströhl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Arms and Crest of the Kingdom of Ireland


This arms and crest are not used in modern Ireland but were current in Joyce's time.

Blazon: On a wreath or and azure, a tower triple-towered from the first, from the portal a hart springing argent. Attired and hoofed gold (Fox-Davies, qtd. In O’Shea 70). See key terms doe, buck, azure, and harp for examples of how Joyce incorporates these charges and tinctures in Ulysses.

Joyce arms, jpeg image purchased by Erik Simpson from houseofnames.com, not for reuse

The Joyce arms. An image derived from James Joyce's sketch of the Joyce crest is reproduced in O’Shea 50.

Joyce Family

Blazon: Argent an eagle displayed gules charged on the breast with a bar gemel ermine (O’Shea 49). The image reproduced in O'Shea was created posthumously by an artist who based his work on James Joyce's treasured drawing of his coat of arms. The image reflects an error in the heraldic record that John Joyce (James Joyce's father) simply repeated. There is evidence that the James and his father John were not actually entitled to the Joyce arms, although the rules regarding Irish arms were much more flexible than those regarding English or Scottish arms (O’Shea 49).

Textual Occurrence

Shakespeare arms

Coat of Arms of William Shakespeare


Blazon: Or, on a bend sable a spear of the first steeled argent. Crest: A falcon, its wings displayed, supporting a spear or (O’Shea 43). The motto translates to "not without right."

Sadie Dingfelder of The Washington Post has written a brief piece on a version of these arms on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library.