History of the Irish Flag

Did you know Ireland has had two national flags? They are the Green Flag and the Tricolor Flag. One flag is green with a harp and the other is tricolored with green, orange, and white.

Ireland National Flag
Ireland National Flag

The current Irish flag is a tricolor of green, white and orange. It has three colors of equal size and vertically disposed with the green displayed next to the staff. Some say that the flag is gold as opposed to orange, from the gold harp on the original Green Flag.

This confusion arose in the 1916-22 period when the tricolor flag, which had previously been marginal and little known, was superseding the Green Flag as the national emblem. Green and gold, the colors of the Green Flag, were regarded as the national colors throughout the nineteenth century and some of the homemade tricolors from the 1916-22 period were in fact green, white and gold. There are also some songs from that period that refer to ‘green, white and gold’ flags and this helped to keep the concept alive, but the symbolism of the green, white and orange dates from 1848.

Thomas Francis Meagher first introduced the Tricolor Flag during the revolutionary year, 1848 as an emblem of the Young Ireland movement, and it was often seen displayed at meetings alongside the French tricolor.

The green represents the older Gaelic and Anglo-Norman population, while the orange represents the Protestant planters, supporters of William of Orange. The meaning of the white was well expressed by Meagher when he introduced the flag. He stated, “The white in the center signifies a lasting truce between the ‘Orange’ and the ‘Green’ and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in heroic brotherhood.”

Erin Go Bragh Flag
Erin Go Bragh Flag

This flag did not come into general usage until the War of Independence (1919-1921). Prior to this, the green flag with gold harp was the main symbol of nationalism. It was not until the Rising of 1916, when it was raised above the General Post Office in Dublin that the tricolor came to be regarded as the national flag, but only at the creation of the first House of Representatives /Commons did the current Tricolor become widely recognized as a national flag.

Show your  spirit with an Ireland Flag.  Even you are not of Irish descent it does not matter. Don your green apparel and shamrocks and have fun!

2 thoughts on “History of the Irish Flag

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