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The Shield is: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Gules out of clouds in the sinister side of a dexter arm fessways proper holding a dagger in pale argent pommel and hiltor; 2nd and 3rd, Argent, a lion rampant gules against a tree in the dexter couped proper.
The Crest is: A fleur-de-lis gules.
The Motto is: "Pro Deo et patria.", 'For God And Country.'
Various spellings for Riordan are: Reardan, Rearden, Reardon, Reordan, Rierdon, Riordon, Rierdan, O'Reardan, O'Reardon, O'Riordan, and Ó Ríada.

Reardon is an alternative form of Riordan, which in Irish is Ó Ríordáin. The O' Prefix is frequently used in English, having been very widely resumed in the present century: sixty years ago there were sixteen Riordans for every one O'Riordan, now the numbers are approximately equal.

The sept of O'Riordan originated in Co. Tipperary but migrated to Co. Cork, where they are still primarily located. The vital statistics are indeed quite remarkable in this respect: of 170 births recorded for a given year 100 were in Co. Cork and 54 in counties (Kerry and Limerick) adjoining their territory in the north. Cited as having been distinguished military cheifs in more ancient times, they were known as the O'Riordans of Muskerry there. Note the place name of Ballyreardon, in the barony of Barrymore, in Cork which commemorates the family.

Their name of orgin "Ríorghbhardán," meaning "Poets to the Kings," or "The King's Poet." The role of the Royal Poet was much greater than the writing or recital of verses. It included being a scholar, historian and advisor to the king, Another meaning of the name is "descended from the royal bard".

Always the most numerous in Cork, they are also found in Kerry and Limerick in the 1890 birth index with some 159 births. Their distribution is shown below.
Births of the surname in 1890 (by province): Leinster 4, Munster 154, Connacht 0, Ulster 1.
Most common in counties: Cork, Kerry, Limerek.

One family of the name, of Derryroe in Co. Cork, left to reside in France where they became Peers of that nation. Another branch of the family is cited as ancient historians of Eile.

As it is with so many Irish names, the "O" prefix was dropped from its spelling by the time of the 1890 birth index. A look at the telephone directories in modern times will show that that trend is reversing itself. The "O" has been added back onto the name by many.

Of varient spellings of the name in the 17th century, O'Riordane and O'Rierdane were both principal names of Co. Cork, while O'Rierdan was a principal name of Limerick and Rierdan was found in Clare at that time.

The sept did not produce any outstanding figure in Irish history, literature, or art, though several Co. Cork O'Riordans appear as Irish soldiers in the seventeenth century. MacFirbis mentions a family of O'Riordan who were historians of Eile, but little is known of these. Rev. Dr. M. O'Riordan was the author of Catholicity and Progress in Ireland, a book which was much discussed when it appeared in 1906. Professor Sean P. O'Riordan (1905-1957), of Cork, was an archaelogist, whose excavations at Tara and elsewhere earned him an international reputation. A branch of the O'Riordans, long seated at Derryroe, Co. Cork, settled at Nantes in 1753 and later became Peers of France.


The Book of Irish Families Great & SmallIrish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins
Michael C. O'LaughinEdward MacLysaght
1997 Irish Genealogical FoundationIrish Academic Press Limited 1991