Arce family name comes from the ancient kingdom of Navarra (the old basque kingdom). The historic territory of Navarrais divided nowadays between Spain (Alta Navarra)and France (Baja Navarra-Pyrinees Atlantiques),as a result of the attempts of both neighbouring kingdoms to overtake the control of the territory.
For that reason the name Arce is found at both sides of present day border that divides Spain and France. Arce family name comes from the valley that has the same name and that was the historic cradle of this old basque family, that gave so many knights to both kingdoms. Also for that reason it can be found as "D'Arce" or "De Arce" meaning "from Arce('s valley)". This valley is located in the spanish province of Navarra near the french border and the historic passageway of Roncesvalles. From here a branch of the family migrated during the Medieval ages into the nearby region of Cantabria (province of Santander, kingdom of Castilla), and after the spanish conquests of America and the Philippines it spread all over these areas.
The somehow odd presence of Arce family name in Ireland can be due to a sailor with that name from the "Armada Invencible" that survived and reached the Irish coast (like the very spanish name of the first irish president: "De Valera").
The meaning of the basque word Artze (from which derives the name of the valley and the family name) is "bear". The relation with the maple tree is just a matter of chance as in spanish Arce stands for maple tree, but as mentioned it is a basque origin name.
The heraldics of this very old and noble family are five blue "fleur de lis" placed in a X-shaped position on a white background, and with a red and white chess-like bordure: "En campo de plata, cinco flores de lis de azur en sotuer, con bordura de escaques de plata y gules".
Artze Nafarroako izena da...Euskalerrian beste leku batzuk Artze dute izena (in basque language: "Arce is a basque name. In the basque country other places carry also this name"...) Actually at least two towns carry this same name.
Reciban todos los descendientes de la familia un cordial saludo.