Frequently Asked Questions.

Q. The coat of arms I want is not on your site. Will you put it there please?
A. Probably - if I live long enough. I have about half a million written descriptions (blazons) of coats of arms. So far I have made graphics of only several thousand. If you are really interested, for a small fee you can order a graphic file from http://www.araltas.com/graphics.html

Q. There's more than one coat of arms on your site for my name. How do I know which is the right one for me?
A. In most cases I have included the location of the family whose coats of arms are displayed, where this information is available. I don't know your personal descent, but if you do, you should be able to work it out. Remember that many names arose separately in different places. The only way to know for sure is to trace your ancestors. If you have already done so, you can order a detailed coat of arms search from http://www.araltas.com/research.html which will give you as much detail as is recorded for coats of arms for your surname and this may help you pick the most appropriate.

Q. My child is doing a school project and needs a picture of a coat of arms. Can you send it please?
A. If it's already on my site, your child may use it. If not, you'll just have to order it at http://www.araltas.com/graphics.html

Q. I don't like the coat of arms for my surname.
A. Don't blame me, I only drew it - someone else picked it.

Q. I saw a coat of arms on another site and it doesn't look anything like / is somewhat different from the one on your site. Why?
A. There are several reasons.

Q. I have noticed that you show the same coat of arms for several families. How can this be or are the graphics just placeholders?
A. Again there are several reasons.

Q. But ... why do multiple families have the same coat of arms if they are meant to be unique identifiers?
A. Once again, there are several reasons.

Q. What is your source for the such-and-such coat of arms on your site and can you send it to me?
A. Often when people ask me this I get the impression that they are trying to catch me out. It takes time for me to go back and root out the precise source for the arms on my site and time is money ... so if you want the source documentation, please order a detailed search at http://www.araltas.com.research.html. So as not be accused of avoiding the question entirely, here is a list of the main sorce documentation that I use.

I'm sure most of these books are available in your local library, so if you want to check up on my research, you can probably do so there.
Some of the coats of arms have come to my attention from other sources, such as my own delvings in the Genealogical Office in Dublin. Sometimes people will kindly send me copies of grants of arms or bookplates which they have discovered themselves.

Q. The arms you show for Smyth are wrong they are really those of Smith. Can you correct that?
A. Spelling was never the strong point of some of the record keepers of the past. Names such as Smyth and Smith, Feild and Field, etc. were constantly being used interchangeably. You may believe that your family has used the same spelling for centuries, but trust me, it's probably not true. One of the strangest examples of this I have come across is the case of an Irish family most commonly found as MacEneany. There are at least 36 different variant spellings. Most strange is the case of six members of the same family whose tombstones all bear a different spelling. Four are buried in the same cemetary i.e. Peter MacEneaney (the father), Mary McAneaney (the mother), Francis McAneney and Patrick McEnaney (sons). The other two children were buried in a different cemetary under the names of Catherine McEneany and John Bird (the word "ean" is Irish and means "bird", thus the pseudo-translation). Not only that, but even in Irish there are two forms of the name, Mac an Dhéaghanaigh and Mac Conaonaigh. Other Englisg forms include McAnaney, McAnany, McAnanny, McAnneeny, etc. McEnany, McEneeny, etc., McNeeny, McNeany, McNanny, McNenny, McNeny and so on. Even if your family has used a particular spelling for hundred of years, the coat of arms may have been granted or assumed before your particular spelling was adopted. Coats of arms are as old as surnames themselves - perhaps older.

Q. Why do you seem to have more Irish coats of arms than anything else.
A. I am Irish and I live in Ireland, therefore I know more about Irish name than those from any other country. For that reason I am probably most expert at tracking down arms and histories for Irish families, which are often disguised under weird and wonderful spellings. As you move away from Ireland my expertise diminishes and although I can tell you what arms are recorded for Mrowczewski, I haven't a clue as to how the name oiginated, etc.

Q. Some of the graphics on your site are really poor quality. Why?
A. I've been creating these coats of arms graphics since 1990. In the early days I didn't have fancy software or a clipart collection to work with and so the older files were not as good quality wise as what I make today. Also, in general, the graphics files on this site are of smaller size and lower resolution than what I can produce to order. This is to save on bandwidth and diskspace. If you order a graphic or print from me, the quality will be much better than what you see on this site. Check out The Roll of Arms or The Gallery for high quality samples.

Q. Someone told me that a coat of arms can onlt belong to an individual and that there is no such thing as a family coat of arms. Is this true?
A. Yes and no. For my views on this subject, see Heraldry 101.

Q. I emailed you with a question about a coat of arms and you never replied. Why?
A. I am really, really busy - honest. My time is very limited and other things must come first. It would be nice if my heraldry addiction paid well, but it doesn't, so I have to work to put bread on the table, and that occupies most of my time. While I try to answer all queries, please understand that my paying customers will always get my attention first. If you are a paying customer and haben't heard from me, that is a different matter and something must have gone wrong in the system. Please email me at sales@araltas.com with your order details.

Q. Can you design and register a new coat of arms for me / my club / my business?
A. I do offer a design service and you can find details here. I do not undertake "official" registration of coats of arms, mainly because most heraldic authorities prefer to deal with the holder of the arms rather than any third party. However, I happily vest all coyright in the customer and that is probably better protection than registration.