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The Meaning Behind the Irish Flag

The Meaning Behind the Irish Flag

Katie Rhodes |

Since it was first widely adopted as the national flag following the 1916 Easter Rising (and later formally adopted), the flag of Ireland has presented a simple yet bold statement across the island and abroad. However, the tricolor—as it is sometimes referred to—has a deeper meaning than just harmoniously hued bars.

The Origin

In 1848, Thomas Meagher and a group known as the Young Irelanders were eager to see concordance and prosperity in Ireland. They believed that if the Catholics and Protestants worked together they could overthrow the British government in favor of local rule. This led to the Rebellion of 1848, a failed attempt at a revolution.

Numerous revolutions had been and were occurring around the Europe at this time. The group had been especially encouraged and inspired by the French Revolution and traveled to Paris to learn more. As the story goes, it was here where a group of women presented them with a small French silk in green, white, and orange. They adopted the hues of the silk as their flag immediately and upon returning home Meagher presented it to the Irish people. Decades later, the new flag would come to officially replace its predecessor, which featured a harp set on a green background.

The Hues

Specifically, the hues have a meaning a bit deeper than just a vibrant palette. The green, which is hung closest to the flagpole, represents the original republic of Ireland and its native people, most of whom were Roman Catholics. The orange on the far side of the flag symbolizes the Protestants. A number of Protestants in Ireland during that time were supporters of William of Orange, a Protestant prince who became King William III of Britain. Finally, the white in the center of the flag symbolizes the continued peace between the two groups and a hope and desire for inclusion of all peoples and backgrounds.