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Castlereagh Borough Council, Northern Ireland

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by rob raeside
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The arms granted to the council in 1977 are Per chevron azure and Or in chief two cogwheels of the last and in base a sinister hand appaumée couped gules.

The red hand in the base of the shield is taken from the O'Neill arms and records the early history of Castlereagh. The Caisleán Riabhach or "grey castle" that gives its name to the area was built about 1350 by Aodh Flann O'Neill. The castle and land was abandoned by the O'Neills in 1618 and the castle no longer exists. It should be noted that is a left hand, from the earliest form of O'Neill arms, rather than the more familiar right hand associated with Ulster. The cogwheels in chief represent modern industrial development in the Borough.

This flag is flown from council buildings every day in conjunction with the Union flag and that of Northern Ireland.

Laurence Jones, 1 August 2005

The final sentence of the above contribution is confirmed by Castlereagh Borough Council's stated policy in a Queen's University Belfast report of March 2005, which says the following: "The Union Flag, Northern Ireland Flag and the Council Coat of Arms are flown on Council Headquarters every day."

Insofar as the "Council Coat of Arms" flag is concerned, there would appear to be a paucity of images, not least on the council's own web site. However, the Planning Architecture Design Database Ireland (PADDI) at has three images dated August 2002 of the front elevation of Castlereagh Civic Centre, the headquarters of the borough council. This confirms the existence of three flagpoles to the left of the main entrance. The one closest to the entrance has a flag with a white background, although it is too small to properly evaluate, as it is night and the flags are moving. However, it does seem from the bottom image on the above referenced PADDI page that there is some form of writing below the arms and that therefore, the flag is unlikely to be a banner of arms, in the technical sense.

Finally, Castlereagh Borough Council does have a full achievement of arms, which may be seen in a number of places in its Civic Centre. Similar full colour renditions of this Coat of Arms may be found in a number of places on the internet, such as at the Building Control Northern Ireland web site at

In addition to the shield already described above, this includes additional elements: a motto scroll, two supporters, mantling, closed helm and crest. The crest is a rendition of X Cupressocyparis leylandii, or to give it its common name "Robinson Gold", chosen to represent the Borough as the Forest Service of Northern Ireland (FSNI) states that it is unique to the area. It also features in the centre of the medallion on the chain of the Mayor.

(1) Transforming Conflict: Flags and Emblems, by Dominic Bryan and Gordon Gillespie, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast, March 2005
(2) Planning Architecture Design Database Ireland (PADDI) web site dated August 2002 and consulted 27 February 2006
(3) Building Control Northern Ireland web site consulted 27 February 2006
(4) Castlereagh Borough Council web site consulted 27 February 2006
(5) Forest Service of Northern Ireland web site consulted 27 February 2006
(6) College of Arms web site consulted 27 February 2006

Colin Dobson, 1 March 2006