This month saw the 175th anniversary of the first flying of the Irish tricolour flag by Thomas Francis Meagher on March 7th1848. A special flag presentation ceremony to post primary schools from across the state was held at the south-eastern technological university SETU Arena in Waterford city on Monday, March 6th 2023. 

Guest of honour at the event was An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar where each school was presented by members of the defence forces and civil defence with a flag itself flown from 33 the mall in Waterford where Thomas Francis Meagher first flew the tricolour flag.

The host for the event, the wonderful Waterford lady Teresanne O’Reilly, extended a warm welcome to all in attendance. Guests included the French ambassador Vincent Guérend, Mayor of the City and County of Waterford Cllr. John O’ Leary, visiting Mayors and Cathaoirleachs and Dignitaries alongside Honorary Board members of the Foundation and most importantly school students and their teachers.

Students then enjoyed a story performed by local actor Tadhg Williams playing the character of Thomas Francis Meagher, before Reverend Canon Michael Cavanagh Co-Founder of the Foundation gave a motivating speech to students about active citizenship and playing their full part in continuing to build on a multicultural and diverse Ireland.

The Taoiseach spoke about the importance of peace and what the flag signified “It is both inspiring and heartening to witness the huge numbers of young people engaging in the Thomas F. Meagher Foundation programmes. “To see over 1,500 students travelling from all parts of the state to celebrate the 175th anniversary of our national flag is evidence that our young people have pride in and respect for the flag’s message of peace, inclusion, and the hope of a shared future on a shared island together.”

Senator Mark Daly, Leas-Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann and Co-Founder of the Foundation thanked An Taoiseach for his inspiring and important words, he explained that each of the flags being presented were handmade in Ireland by the same family business who make all the flags for the defence forces and government buildings, before inviting young Tom Meagher a descendent of Thomas Francis Meagher and young trustee of the Foundation Aishling Rochford to present a flag, this sacred symbol of our nation to An Taoiseach.

The audience were then treated to a beautiful musical performance by Sean Nós musicians brother and sister duo Seamús and Caoimhe who performed Caoineadh na dTrí Muire followed by Caisleán an tSléibhe.  The national flag presentation followed shortly after, and the afternoon was brought to a close with the audience singing the national anthem Amhrán na Bhfiann.

“A national flag is the most scared thing a nation can possess”.