The Shield is: Sable a griffin sergeant argent beak and forelegs or.
The Crest is: A black dog's head.
The Mottoes are: "Ne Vile Velis", and "Fide Et Fortitudine", 'By Fidelity and Fortitude'.
Variant spellings for Griffin are: Griffen, Griffins, Griffy, Grifith, O'Griffy, O'Griffen, O'Griffin, and O'Griobhtha.
Among the top 100 surnames in all of Ireland, Griffin was often earlier found as O'Griffy, taken from the Irish O'Griobhtha. Today Griffin is the preferred spelling of the name, as it was in the 1890 birth index, with some 216 births, primarily in Kerry, Clare, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Mayo.
The family may be of several origins, including Irish, British, or Welsh. "Griffiths" is a popular name in England, and has been found as Griffin on occasion in Ireland. Settlers of the name arrived in the wake of the Norman invasions from Wales, and no doubt thereafter.
Of the native Irish of the name, they may hail originally from Co. Clare or Kerry. Ballygriffy, in the barony of Inchiquin, Co. Clare, marks the origins of the Thomand family, which spread into adjoining counties. They were seated at Ballygriffey castle, Dysart Parish, close to Ennis in Clare.
Another family of the name was centered in Co. Kerry, at Ballygriffin, in the barony of Glanarought. There is also a place name of Ballygriffin in Coshma barony in Co. Limerick. The Limerick family may stem from either of these two families, we do not know.
In the 17th century O'Griffen was a principal name of Cork and in Kerry. O'Griffin is also found in Cork, and Griffin in Limerick and Westmeath.
Gerald Griffin (1803-1840), best known as the author of that great Irish novel The Collegians, was of this leading O'Griffy family. Also in the literary sphere the Gaelic poet Muiris O'Griofa, or Maurice Griffin (d.c. 1778) may be mentioned (Mr. Basil O'Connell's genealogical researches have led him to believe that Maurice Griffin was of a Co. Monaghan family which migrated to Co. Kerry in the eighteenth century).
Arms for the name are found on plates 157 amd 264 in the Irish Book or Arms.
Source: The Book of Irish Families Great & Small
Michael C. O'Laughin
1997 Irish Genealogical Foundation
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