Do you know the story behind the Irish flag?
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How much do you know about the flag that represents the Republic of Ireland?
The Irish flag (Bratach na hÉireann) – also known as the Irish tricolor – was flown publicly for the first time during the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, on March 7, in Waterford City, at the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club. It was flown by Thomas Francis Meagher, then a leader of the Young Irelander movement, who would go down in history as Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher of the Union Army during the American Civil War.
While here in the US Meagher is best remembered for his role as a General in the Union Army and Governor of what is now Montana, his impact on Irish history and patriotic pride was also immense.
When Meagher hung the tricolor in Waterford, it boldly flew for eight days and nights until it was taken down by the British.
Meagher and his fellow Young Irelanders had been inspired by the 1848 revolutions across Europe. In April of 1848, a contingent of them traveled to France to congratulate the rebels there on overthrowing King Louis Philippe I. There, Meagher was presented with an Irish tricolor woven out of French silk.
Upon returning to Ireland, he, in turn, presented it to the Irish people, explaining the symbolism of the flag’s three colors. “The white in the center signifies a lasting truce between the orange and the green,” he said, “and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped, in generous and heroic brotherhood.”
The green represents Irish nationalism; the orange, Ireland’s Protestant minority, and the Orange Order; the white, lasting peace between the two.
For his role in the 1848 rebellion, Meagher was tried for treason and sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted to banishment to Van Diemen’s Land in Australia. He would later escape to a new life in the United States.
While the tricolor had gained traction as a symbol for Ireland until the Easter Rising of 1916 the primary flag of Ireland was green with a harp in the center (the harp remains as Ireland’s national symbol; Ireland is the only country in the world that has a musical instrument as such). That flag was used as early as 1642, by Owen Roe O’Neill, an Irish soldier, and leader of the O’Neill dynasty.
During the Rising, both flags were flown above the GPO, the headquarters of the rebels, and the tricolor became more widely accepted.
After the Rising, it was adopted by the IRA during the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921), was a symbol of the Irish Free State from 1922 – 1937, and then, when the Irish constitution came into law later that year, it was confirmed as the official flag of Ireland by Article 7, which reads: “The national flag of Ireland is the tricolor of green, white and orange.”
Today, the tricolor is a symbol of Irish pride and remains an important reminder of the peace that has been achieved and the progress that has yet to be made.
Throughout 1916, which, in addition to marking the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising also marks 100 years since the tricolor emerged into the popular imagination, the Irish Defense Forces and the Thomas F. Meagher foundation are working to ensure that the history of the flag is better known.
In the lead up to the 1916 centenary, every school in Ireland received an Irish flag. In post-primary schools, the Thomas F. Meagher foundation presented the Irish flag. In primary schools, the flag was presented by a member of Ireland’s defense forces, who educated the students on the flag’s story, its meaning, and proper care.
For example, the flag must always be flown above any others on the staff, it must never be displayed in poor condition, and it must always fly with the green segment closest to the flag staff. (Reversed, the Irish flag is quite similar to the Ivory Coast flag.)
'Imagine what Ireland might yet become,' students urged
From: The Independent
Click here to read the full article on the Independent web site.
As a direct descendant of the Irish revolutionary who unveiled the Tricolour for the first time, 14-year-old schoolgirl Lilly Whelehan was more than a little nervous when she took to the podium at Croke Park where her great, great, great, great grand uncle was being honoured.
Not only was it her "nerve-racking" duty to thank President Michael D Higgins for attending the State ceremony yesterday, marking the final chapter in the Ireland 2016 Flags for Schools project, she also had to address more than 6,000 of her peers and teachers from every school in the country - in front of RTÉ broadcaster Ryan Tubridy no less, who acted as master of ceremonies.
"It was very scary," said the secondary school student from the Ursuline Convent in Thurles, Co Tipperary, still nervously clutching her neatly hand-printed speech.
But like her revered ancestor, Thomas Francis Meagher, she fearlessly rose to the challenge and pulled it off without a hitch.
And 168 years after he first hoisted the Tricolour at the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club in Waterford, before it was flown from the roof of the GPO by the insurgents during the Easter Rising, Lilly beamed with pride in the knowledge that his dream of the green, white and orange banner symbolising Irish national identity eventually came true.
"It's the same for everyone else, I'm just proud that it's our flag," she said.
Her history teacher, Carmel Keating, said the school was particularly honoured to be among more than 3,200 secondary schools taking part in the Flags for Schools initiative, launched last year in conjunction with the Defence Forces and the Department of Education.
"It was an honour when we found out that Lilly was actually in the school and that she was related to Thomas Francis Meagher.
"I suppose the fact that it's a flag of peace as well and symbolises the two traditions in Ireland and bringing those together," she said.
"It's now up to the next generation to keep that peace going," she added.
President Higgins gave the keynote address at the ceremony in which representatives of every secondary school in the country was given a handmade flag and a copy of the Proclamation by a member of the Defence Forces.
Primary schools across the country have already received their flags and Proclamations from Defence Forces personnel who visited their schools over the past five months.
Informing them that many of the insurgents in the Rising were the same age as the students sitting before him in the Cusack Stand, Mr Higgins called on them to "take charge of change and imagine what Ireland might yet become".
Rev Michael Cavanagh, chair of the Thomas F Meagher Foundation, spoke in a similar vein, reminding the students that "you've been given a responsibility to communicate the flag's message".
"We ask you to live the flag's message," he added.
Students receive Tricolour and Proclamation in Croke Park
From: The Irish Times
Click here to read the full article on The Irish Times web site.
President Michael D Higgins says Rising was ‘stunningly ambitious act of imagination’
Thousands of secondary school pupils have been presented with copies of the national flag and the Proclamation at a special ceremony at Croke Park in Dublin in advance of the Easter Rising centenary commemorations.
Every secondary school in the Republic was represented in the stadium yesterday in what was the biggest public event to date to mark the centenary.
The students formed two long lines. One line collected a copy of the Proclamation, while the other the national flag.
Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes, former Irish women’s rugby captain Niamh Briggs and All-Ireland winning Kilkenny hurler Paul Murphy were among the sporting personalities who distributed the flags to the students.
Barnes said it was a proud moment for him both to have received and to distribute the flags.
President Michael D Higgins told the gathering the Rising had been a “stunningly ambitious act of imagination”.
Many of the rebels had been actors and therefore had a sense of the dramatic, the President told the 6,000 students and teachers present.
“It is testament to the enormous success of the Easter Rising in capturing the imagination of the Irish people that the Tricolour flag which, at the time, was little known even among the rebels, rapidly became accepted as the unquestioned symbol of the Irish independence movement,” Mr Higgins said.
Students were told how Thomas Meagher, one of the Young Irelanders, had modified the symbol of revolutionary France to suit the Irish context. It had first been flown in Waterford in 1848.
An actor playing Meagher read his words: “The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”