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Éire, Republic of Ireland, Poblacht na hÉireann

Last modified: 2002-09-14 by rob raeside
Keywords: ireland | tricolour | harp |
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[Irish flag] 1:2 |
by Vincent Morley
Use of flag confirmed 29 December 1937.

See also:

History of the Flag

The stripes were found in a different order in the early (pre-independence) days.

James Dignan, 14 May 1996

The oldest known reference to the use of the three colours (green, white and orange) as a nationalist emblem dates from September 1830 when tricolour cockades were worn at a meeting held to celebrate the French revolution of that year - a revolution which restored the use of the French tricolour. The colours were also used in the same period for rosettes and badges, and on the banners of trade guilds. There is also one reference to the use of a flag 'striped with orange and green alternately'. However, the earliest attested use of a tricolour flag was in 1848 when it was adopted by the Young Ireland movement under the influence of another French revolution. Speeches made at that time by the Young Ireland leader Thomas Francis Meagher suggest that it was regarded as an innovation and not as the revival of an older flag.

Vincent Morley, 8 January 1997

The Irish television channel RTÉ 1 included the following flag-related item on its main news programme last night.

A historian named Dermot Power has established that the tricolour was publicly unveiled by Thomas Francis Meagher, a leader of the Young Ireland movement, at a meeting in his native city of Waterford on 7 March 1848 - exactly 150 years ago today. The report showed the large second-floor window from which he addressed a crowd in the street below and at which the flag was displayed.

This discovery pushes back the history of the flag by five weeks: it had previously been thought that it was first displayed by Meagher at a meeting held in Dublin on 15 April 1848. More importantly, the television report stated that Meagher informed the Waterford meeting that the flag was being shown for the first time. No such claim was made at the later Dublin meeting, an omission which had led to speculation that the flag might have been in use for some time before 1848. This possibility now appears to have been excluded.

Vincent Morley, 9 March 1998

The use of the Irish tricolour flag in the period 1922-39 was almost entirely confined to the territory of the Irish Free State. To many, perhaps to most, Irish people it was still 'the Sinn Fein Flag'. From Hayes-McCoy (1979), A History of Irish Flags from Earliest Times

It was used unofficially by the government in the Irish Free State, but not with the intention that it should become the national flag:

"The government in Ireland have taken over the so called Free State Flag in order to forestall its use by republican element and avoid legislative regulation, to leave them free to adopt a more suitable emblem later."
[PRO document DO 117/100 written in 1928]

In the event the tricolour was adopted as the national flag, but not until 1937.

David Prothero, 1 February 2001

Colour of the Flag

An official document (115 kbyte PDF file) describing the protocol to be observed when displaying the Irish national flag gives Pantone colours for green 347, and orange 151.

Dean McGee, 18 October 2001

This translate to browser safe RGB as: 
PMS 151 RGB:255-102-0 (#FF6600)
PMS 347 RGB:0-153-102 (#009966)

(Note: conversion from PMS to RGB depends so much on software and monitor settings, parameters and preferences that almost always such conversion is *not* a loss in color detail.)

António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 October 2001

In CMYK values this would be:
Green C 100 - M 0 - Y 80 - K 10
Orange C 0 - M 40 - Y 90 - K 0

Ivan Sache, 18 October 2001

Here is the result, with the flag from the top of the page for comparison:
[Irish flag]      [Irish flag]
by António Martins-Tuválkin by Vincent Morley

In spite of it being described on an official website, I am not quite satisfied with the green colour.  I think it it looks way too pale, in comparison with other green flags we have. Maybe (just maybe) 0-153-51 would do a bit better?

Zeljko Heimer, 21 October 2001

It certainly would. Apart from its paleness, 0-153-102 is also too far towards the blue end of the spectrum.  0-153-51 looks fine on my monitor, but so does 0-153-0.

Vincent Morley, 21 October 2001

Presidential standard

[Presidential standard] by Zeljko Heimer

Flag introduced 13 February 1945 (Hayes McCoy, 1979)

Vincent Morley, 2 February 2002

The traditional arms of Ireland have the harp on a blue field. A gold harp on a green field (as opposed to the blue of the arms) was the traditional Green Flag of Ireland before the tricolour became popular.

Roy Stilling, 30 May 1996

The evolution of the heraldic harp can be traced in Irish coinage. The harp first appeared on coins in the reign of Henry VIII. From the reign of Henry VIII to that of Elizabeth I the forepillar of the harp was plain. In the coinages of James I and Charles I it had an animal head. The naked female torso first appeared in the coinage of Charles II (appropriately enough perhaps) and was a permanent feature from then until 1822 when the Irish currency was abolished. The harp adopted as the state emblem on the formation of the Irish Free State is a medieval instrument, the Brian Boru harp, which is preserved in Trinity College Dublin. Use of this particular harp is reserved to the state so all private bodies are obliged to use harps of other designs.

Vincent Morley, 27 January 1997

The harp that appears on the presidential standard differs from that shown on conventional representations of the national arms in being less ornate, in not being tilted into the playing position (i.e. it has diagonal rather than vertical strings), and in having only twelve gold strings rather than a larger number of silver strings. The field of the presidential standard is also in a darker shade of blue than the usual field of the national arms, and the ornamentation on the harp is worked in blue thread of the same shade.

Vincent Morley, 1 November 1999

Irish Coat of Arms

[Irish coat of arms] by Zeljko Heimer

Source: The National Flag (click on 'The National Flag')

Zeljko Heimer, 29 January 2002

Arms introduced November 1945 (Hayes McCoy, 1979)

Vincent Morley, 2 February 2002

Discussion on the Variants of the Irish Harp

The colour of the strings on Irish harps is not consistent. On the national arms they are white (silver); on the jack and presidential standard they are yellow; on the naval pennant, they were white, as appears from  the photograph in Hayes-McCoy (1979), 'A History of Irish flags from Earliest Times'. These differences reflect the fact that the designs were introduced by independent processes at different times. The relevant dates are:

Naval pennant: December 1939
Presidential standard: February 1945
Arms: November 1945
Jack: July 1947 

For more information, see Séamus Ó Brógáin (1998), 'The Irish Harp Emblem'. This author writes as follows about the presidential standard: 

"This flag was approved by the Government on 13 February 1945. A number of technical decisions were made at the same time, including the decision that ... the strings of the harp be yellow (in settlement of the question raised by Edward MacLysaght, who had insisted that the strings should be white)."

Vincent Morley, 2 February 2002

Aircraft Markings

[Irish roundel] by Zeljko Heimer

The initial marking at the beginning of the Irish air forces was a roundel of green-white-orange, later standardized into green-white-orange stripes, and during 1939-1954 into the shape of the so-called "Celtic boss" in green and orange (similar to a yin-yang emblem). Sometimes this was placed on a white square. Since 1954 the tricolour "Celtic boss" has been used. (source: Cochrane and Elliott, 1998)

 Zeljko Heimer, 30 January 2002

"Irish Flag" Cocktail

I found on a website dedicated to the Belgian gastronomy the recipe of a cocktail called "Irish flag":

2 cc Mint spirit
2 cc Irish cream (Bayley's)
2 cc Grand Marnier

The ingredients have to be poured in the above order, very gently down a long spoon, so that the coloured liquids won't mix together.

Ivan Sache, 12 August 2002

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