The Irish flag, our tricolour, our greatest national symbol, used to identify us across the globe and who knows, maybe beyond. We can all identify it at a glance. To strangers it’s a symbol of friendliness, the Irish humour, St Patrick’s Day and neutrality. Yet, so many of us still don’t actually know that much about our nation’s standard. The words “green, white and gold” have pervaded the country as being our national colours – it couldn’t be further from the truth. Our flag is actually green, white and orange but once upon a time it was orange, white and green!
The first time the Irish tricolour was ever flown was in 1848, long before the war of independence, long before the Irish constitution and not many people know that. Further more, even fewer know that the flag was conceived by Thomas Francis Meagher and first unveiled in Waterford on March 7th 1848, at 33 The Mall – his lasting vision for the true colours of the flag was peace (white) between the unionists (orange) and republicans (green) who all wanted to share the one land of Ireland. At some point in history the flag was reversed to position green as the primary colour but the symbolism and meaning remains the same.
Now, how many Irish people could tell you that? How often have you ever seen people express pride in the flag outside of a sporting event? This March (5th-6th) an event to commemorate the message, and first raising, of our nation’s greatest symbol, will take place in Waterford. An international event with guests from France and the United States will take place, to acknowledge the history of our flag and create a little bit of pride and goodwill in these difficult and gloomy times. For more information check out http://www.1848tricolour.com and join in the festivities.
Disclosure: I am a member of the organising committee for the 1848 Tricolour Celebration.