The Ireland Flag was adopted on December 26th, 1922, but the earliest known use of green, white and orange as symbolic of Irish nationalism was in 1830. Then, tricolour ribbons were worn to celebrate the French revolution of that year (the Second French Revolution).
The earliest time that we can be certain these colors were used on a flag is 1848, by the Young Ireland movement. This coincided with the third French Revolution of 1848. Records note that on March 7, 1848, Meagher addressed a crowd from the second-floor window of a building in Waterford. During this address Meagher unveiled the new flag, displaying it for the crown below. Some weeks later, at a meeting in Dublin on April 15, Meagher said, “I hope to see that flag one day waving, as our national banner.”
Green has long been associated with Ireland, the beginnings shrouded in the Gaelic mists of time. Naturally, green became identified with Irish revolutionary groups and their struggle for independence. Green also became connected with Catholics in Ireland, because they composed the largest number of Irish campaigning for independence from Protestant England, and later Great Britain.
Orange is associated with the Protestants of Ulster in the north of Ireland. This stems from British King William III of the House of Orange.
The white color is said to represent the truce and peace between the Green and the Orange. All three colors now represent an Ireland fully independent.
Our historian has written extensively on the history of flags and the eras in which they were used. For example, the oldest national flag still in use by any country is that of Denmark, over 900 years old. A quick look at it might lead one to believe it’s origin lies in Christianity, which it does. But the background story includes the legend of how it came about on a battlefield, and how former Holy Roman Empire crusaders traveled north to help the Danes defeat the Estonians.If you are interested in the story of any flag, let us know. We’ll be happy to send it along, by mail or email, free of charge. And don’t hesitate to ask questions. One person wanted to know what flag was being flown by Alabama at secession. No one seemed to know, so Tom dug into the documents of the period. A few months later he wrote the history of the Alabama Flag of Independence. It is now on our shelves. Contact us at (770) 851-4970, or [email protected].
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