THE FIRST EVER permanent exhibition on the Irish flag is to open at the GPO Witness History Visitor Centre in Dublin this month.
The exhibition, installed by the Thomas F Meagher Foundation, will be dedicated by the Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail on 23 February to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the first flying of the flag.
The Thomas F Meagher Foundation, which was co-founded by Church of Ireland Reverend Michael Cavanagh and Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, promotes “pride in and respect for the Irish flag and its meaning for peace”.
Thomas F Meagher first flew the tricolour at the Wolfe Tone Club in Waterford in 1848.
He said the white of the flag in the centre signified a “lasting truce between orange and green”.
The foundation was a partner in the Government’s 1916 centenary celebrations, which included the project of presenting the flag to the country’s schools – carried out by the Defence Forces.
As part of the celebrations, a number of high-profile Irish figures are to attend the dedication ceremony in the GPO, included sports stars Henry Shefflin, John Hayes, Packie Bonner and Stephanie Roche.
In addition, Senator Daly has invited President John F Kennedy’s grand nephew, Congressman Joe Kennedy, to attend the ceremony.
Congressman Kennedy was chosen to deliver the Democratic response to the President’s State of the Union address earlier this week.
The congressman is an honorary board member of the Thomas F Meagher Foundation, with Senator Daly stating that the Kennedy connection with the Irish flag is “long and enduring”.
Congressman Kennedy’s grand-uncle, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, was presented with Thomas F Meagher’s battle sword by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when he addressed a joint session of the US Congress in 2008.
While in 1963, the late President John F Kennedy presented the battle flag of Thomas F Meagher’s regiment, the famous ‘Fighting 69th’, to the people of Ireland when he addressed a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad.
The flag continues to be displayed in Leinster House to this day.
Speaking about the new exhibition, the Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail said: I feel it is truly important we mark the 170th anniversary of the first flying of the flag and what the flag really means, as a symbol of our nation and peace.
In conjunction with the permanent exhibition being unveiled this year, in 2019, a plaque from the President of Ireland, which mentions Meagher as an embodiment of the millions of Irish who contributed so much to the United States, will be unveiled in the Washington Monument.
“This is a great honour for Ireland as only five plaques have been placed in the Washington Monument in the last 70 years,” said Daly.