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Presented as a gift in 1848 to Thomas Francis Meagher from a small group of French women sympathetic to the Irish cause, it was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the significance of the colours outlined by Meagher was, “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.” [1]

Blessing of the Colours by Lavery (cropped)

Michael Collins “Love of Ireland” by Lavery 1922
Church of Ireland “protestant” from West Cork, Sam Maguire recruited Michael Collins to the Irish Republican Brotherhood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Maguire Parnell was also a Church of Ireland member.

From Wikipedia:
The national flag of Ireland (Irish: bratach na hÉireann) – frequently referred to as the Irish tricolour (trídhathach na hÉireann) – is the national flag and ensign of the Republic of Ireland. The flag itself is a vertical tricolour of green (at the hoist), white and orange.[1][2] The proportions of the flag are 1:2 (that is to say, flown horizontally, the flag is half as high as it is wide).
Republic of Ireland

Name
Bratach na hÉireann
Irish tricolour
Use
National flag and ensign
Proportion
1:2
Adopted
1922 (constitutional status; 1937)
Design
A vertical tricolour of green, white and orange
Presented as a gift in 1848 to Thomas Francis Meagher from a small group of French women sympathetic to the Irish cause,[3][4] it was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the significance of the colours outlined by Meagher was, “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.”

The flag should normally be displayed on a flagstaff, with the green pale positioned next to the flagstaff, at the hoist; the white pale positioned in the centre; and the orange pale positioned at the fly, farthest from the flagstaff. Provided that the correct proportions are observed, the flag may be made to any convenient size.[6]

Symbolism
The green pale of the flag symbolises Roman Catholics, the orange represents the minority Protestants who were supporters of William of Orange, who had defeated King James II and his predominantly Irish Catholic army[14] at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.[15] His title came from the Principality of Orange in the south of France that had been a Protestant bastion from the 16th century.

It was included in the Irish flag in an attempt to reconcile the Orange Order in Ireland with the Irish independence movement. The white in the centre signifies a lasting peace and hope for union between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.[16] The flag, as a whole, is intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union of the people of different traditions on the island of Ireland, which is expressed in the Constitution as the entitlement of every person born in Ireland to be part of the independent Irish nation, regardless of ethnic origin, religion or political conviction.[17][18] There are exceptions to the general beneficent theory. Green was also used as the colour of such Irish bodies as the mainly-Protestant and non-sectarian Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, established in 1751.

Occasionally, differing shades of yellow, instead of orange, are seen at civilian functions. However the Department of the Taoiseach state that this is a misrepresentation which “should be actively discouraged”,[6] and that worn-out flags should be replaced.[19] In songs and poems, the colours are sometimes enumerated as “green, white and gold”, using poetic licence.[20][21] Variants of different guises are utilised to include, for example, various emblems of Ireland, such as the presidential harp, the four provinces or county arms.[22][23]

A green flag featuring a harp is described as being used by Owen Roe O’Neill in 1642.[24]

In the late 18th century green had become associated as the colour of nationalism.[25][26][27] The United Irishmen, founded in the 1790s, were inspired by the French revolution, and used a green flag, to which they had a harp emblazoned.[24] A rival organisation, the Orange Order, whose main strength was in Ulster, and which was exclusively for Protestants, especially members of the Anglican Church of Ireland, was founded in 1795 in memory of King William of Orange and the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. Following the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which pitted the “green” tradition of the republican United Irishmen against the “orange” tradition of Anglican Protestant Ascendancy loyal to the British Crown, the ideal of a later nationalist generation in the mid-19th century was to make peace between the two traditions and, if possible, to found a self-governing Ireland on such peace and union.

The oldest known reference to the use of the three colours of 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.[28] The colours were also used in the same period for rosettes and badges, and on the banners of trade guilds.[28] However, widespread recognition was not accorded to the flag until 1848.

At a meeting in his native city of Waterford on 7 March 1848, Thomas Francis Meagher, the Young Ireland leader, first publicly unveiled the flag from a second-floor window of the Wolfe Tone Club as he addressed a gathered crowd on the street below who were present to celebrate another revolution that had just taken place in France.[28][29] It was inspired by the tricolour of France. Speeches made at that time by Meagher suggest that it was regarded as an innovation and not as the revival of an older flag.[28] From March of that year Irish tricolours appeared side-by-side with French ones at meetings held all over the country.[17] John Mitchel, referring to the tricolour of green, white and orange that Meagher had presented from Paris at a later meeting in Dublin on 15 April 1848, said: “I hope to see that flag one day waving, as our national banner”.[17]

Although the tricolour was not forgotten as a symbol of the ideal of union and a banner associated with the Young Irelanders and revolution, it was rarely used between 1848 and 1916. Even up to the eve of the Easter Rising of 1916, the green flag featuring a harp held undisputed sway.[17] Neither the colours nor the arrangement of the early tricolours were standardised. All of the 1848 tricolours showed green, white and orange, but orange was sometimes put next to the staff, and in at least one flag the order was orange, green and white.[17] In 1850 a flag of green for the Roman Catholics, orange for the Protestants of the Established Church and blue for the Presbyterians was proposed.[17] In 1883, a Parnellite tricolour of yellow, white and green, arranged horizontally, was recorded. Down to modern times, yellow has occasionally been used instead of orange, but by this substitution the fundamental symbolism is destroyed.[17]

Associated with separatism in the past, flown during the Easter Rising of 1916 and capturing the national imagination as the banner of the new revolutionary Ireland,[30] the tricolour came to be acclaimed throughout the country as somewhat of a national flag. To many Irish people, though, it was considered to be a “Sinn Féin flag”.[31]

In the Irish Free State which existed between 1922 and 1937, the flag was adopted by the Executive Council. The Free State constitution did not specify national symbols; the decision to use the flag was made without recourse to statute. When the Free State joined the League of Nations in September 1923, the new flag “created a good deal of interest amongst the general public” in Geneva.[32]

The defeated republicans who had fought the Free State’s forces in the 1922–23 Civil War regarded the tricolour as the flag of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, and condemned its appropriation by the new state, as expressed in the song “Take It Down From The Mast”. The Executive Council’s decision was a provisional one.[28] A 1928 British document said:

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.[33]

In 1937, the tricolour’s position as the national flag was formally confirmed by the new Constitution of Ireland.[17]…

References
1. Library. “National Flag”. Taoiseach.gov.ie. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
2. ^ “Constitution of Ireland – Article 7”. Irish Statute Book. Government of Ireland. 1937. Retrieved 19 August 2018. “The national flag is the tricolour of green, white and orange”
3. ^ Sean Duffy, The Concise History of Ireland, 2005
4. ^ Rick Steve’s Ireland 2008
5. ^ “West Cork man raised Tricolour on historic day”. Irish Examiner. 4 April 2016.
6. ^ a b c The National Flag: Design[permanent dead link], Department of the Taoiseach.
7. ^ Symbols in Northern Ireland – Flags Used in the Region CAIN Web Service. Retrieved on 8 November 2011
8. ^ Sugden, John & Harvie, Scott (1995). Sport and Community Relations in Northern Ireland, Centre for the Study of Conflict, School of History, Philosophy and Politics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Ulster. Retrieved on 14 June 2007.
9. ^ Article 7 of the Constitution of Ireland (1st July 1937).
10. ^ a b c “The National Flag” (PDF). Department of the Taoiseach. 2013.
11. ^ “Colour of the Flag – Ireland”. flagspot.net. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
12. ^ a b c PANTONE. “PANTONE 347 U – Find a Pantone Color | Quick Online Color Tool”. http://www.pantone. com. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
13. ^ a b c PANTONE. “PANTONE 151 U – Find a Pantone Color | Quick Online Color Tool”. http://www.pantone. com. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
14. ^ [1] King James II leader at Battle of Boyne
15. ^https://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Historical_Information/The_National_Flag/The_National_Flag.pdf
16. ^ National Flag, Department of the Taoiseach
17. ^ a b c d e f g h The National Flag, Department of the Taoiseach.
18. ^ Subject to the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, 2004.
19. ^ The national Flag Department of the Taoiseach
20. ^ See, for example: Long Journey Home by Elvis Costello and Paddy Moloney.
21. ^ See, for example, the lyrics and commentary on the following Irish rebel songs: Green White and Gold; The Dying Rebel. Archived 14 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine
22. ^ others, The Zen Cart™ Team and. “County Coat of Arms Irish Flag buy discounted Irish flags with family crest for Irish family reunion [] – $24.00 : A Bit O Blarney.com Celtic Jewelry Shop, serving online since 1999”. Abitoblarney.com. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
23. ^ “Photographic image” (PNG). S1.thejournal.ie. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
24. ^ a b Andries Burgers (21 May 2006). “Ireland: Green Flag”. Flags of the World. “Citing G. A. Hayes-McCoy, A History of Irish Flags from earliest times (1979)”
25. ^ “How Green Became Associated With St. Patrick’s Day and All Things Irish”. Time Magazine. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2018. “The color green cropped up again during an effort in the 1790s to bring nonsectarian, republican ideas to Ireland, inspired by the American revolution and the French revolution”
26. ^ Brian Ó Cuív (1977). “The Wearing of the Green”. Studia Hibernica (17, 18): 107–119. JSTOR 20496123. “As early as 1803 many of those who attended the execution of Robert Emmet are described as wearing green favours to display their sympath with the young patriot, and it would seem that the Uniter Irishmen first promoted the colour”
27. ^ “So you know Ireland’s national colour might not be green, right?”. TheJournal. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2018. “The most prominent use of green emerged during the wave of Irish nationalism and republican feeling in the 19th century, when the colour was adopted as a more striking way of separating Ireland from the various reds or blues that were now associated with England, Scotland and Wales”
28. ^ a b c d e Ireland, Flags of the World, 2001. Retrieved on 11 June 2007.
29. ^ Tricolour Flag of Ireland, Your Irish Culture, 2007. Retrieved on 11 June 2007.Archived 2008
30. ^ Contrary to popular belief, the tricolour was not the actual flag of the Easter Rising, although it had been flown from the General Post Office; that flag was a green flag featuring in gold a harp and the words “Irish Republic”.
31. ^ Hayes-McCoy, Gerard Anthony (1979). A History of Irish flags from Earliest Times. Academy Press, Dublin. ISBN 978-0-906187-01-2.
32. ^ “NAI DFA 26/102: Extracts from the report of the Irish delegation to the Fourth Assembly of the League of Nations (September 1923)”. Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. 2 (1923–1926). Royal Irish Academy. September 2000. No. 134. ISBN 1-874045-83-6. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
33. Merchant Shipping Bill, 1947—Second Stage. (20 November 1947) Dáil debates Vol.108 No.15 p.23

Read the more and see more images and embedded links here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Ireland https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

[1] Top quote from the Wikipedia article.
Paintings public domain due to age.
New picture of tricolour released to public domain via wikipedia:
https://archive.li/VsCS9