Emerald Heritage | What is Ireland's Flag?
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What is Ireland's Flag?

To some flags mean everything, to others very little. 

That is just as true in Ireland, as anywhere else. Some see the flag and it evokes history, struggle, heroes and heartbreak, yet others walk past it completely oblivious.

In Ireland that flag is the Irish tricolour (trídhathach na hÉireann).

The History of Ireland's Flag

The earliest known mention of the Irish tricolour is said to be 1830 but for most the first official mention and use came in 1848.

In 1848 revolution swept across much of Europe and Ireland was no different in wanting to shake the shackles of oppression. 

Set against this backdrop, a group of young French women, sympathetic to Ireland’s cause, are said to have gifted an “Irish” version of the French tricolour to Thomas Francis Meagher, a prominent nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders. 

On 7th March 1848, at the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club in Waterford, Meagher unveiled the Irish tricolour for the first time.

After that it was used sporadically and didn’t achieve true national significance until it was raised above the General Post Office, in Dublin, in 1916 during the Easter Rising. 

From there it became adopted in 1922 and was given constitutional status in 1937. 

What do Ireland’s Flag Colours Mean?

The Irish tricolour is green, white and orange.

Green represents Catholics, Irish nationalists and an Irish revolution and draws its inspiration from the old green Irish flag featuring a golden harp.

White represents peace, hope and harmony. All the things the nation sought to achieve during a time of revolution and change.

Orange represents the Protestant minority of Ireland and draws its inspiration from William of Orange, King William III of England, Scotland and Ireland.

These three colours were combined, in that specific order, to represent the hopeful coming together of Ireland as a whole. 

The Irish Tricolour Today

Today the Irish tricolour can be found flying throughout all 32 counties of Ireland.

There are no official rules of use other than the green must always be closest to the flagpole, no other flag should fly above the tricolour and every effort must be used to keep it off the ground and free from trees etc. 


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