Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ulster (Republic of Ireland)

According to the World Flag Database the sub national flags for Ireland are the province flags. This is mostly true, you will notice Ulster is listed. The problem is that this is the flag of the Ancient province of Ulster and only three of the nine Ulster Counties are part of the Irish Republic, the other six that make up Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom.

Before I go any further, the Sub national flags of Ireland would not be the same as the UK, USA or Australia for example. In the UK each sub nation or home nation has its own national identity and is a country in its own right. In the USA and Australia a federal system of government is used where each state has its own government for running local affairs. Ireland is not like this everywhere is in direct rule of Dublin. So sub national flags are rarely used in a government or state role.  Although they are used in Gaelic Athletics (GAA) but as this is not effected by the boarder it would use the province flag.

I feel that the people of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavern still deserve their own unique sub national flag. My first idea was simply to put an Irish Tricolour in the canton of the Province flag:

However none of the other flags have the national flag in the canton and I feel this gives the flag a colonial feel.
So again I tried green, white and orange banners on the cross:
Again I feel this doesn't work.

I thought a little and thought what would be a good symbioses to define the Ulster counties of the Irish State. Why not a harp like on the Irish coat of arms. I decided to use the Naval Jack in the canton as it is a historical and alternative national flag.
The problem with this is as you have probably noticed, the naval jack is identical to the flag of Leinster. So this could be interpreted that Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are part of Leinster which I am sure they would not like. 

Looking at their fellow Ulstermen in Northern Ireland I took inspiration of the former Northern Ireland flag which is often still used (although it has no official status)
Now there are a few features on this flag but what I want to focus on is the crown. A crown is often used as a symbol of state in the UK, and likewise in the Irish Republic a harp is sometimes used in the same way. So my next design feature a harp symbolising the Irish State. 
I like this flag, it features a harp symbolising the sovereignty of Ireland and three shamrocks one for each county represented by the flag.
The only thing is I think it should be simpler. I decided to change the shield in the centre into a circle. This looked good then I added a green and orange to make the national colours which looked even better.
This flag is my personal favourite and it definitely gets the point across about the three counties being part of the Republic. It is also modern and distinctive. However I wonder should a sub natioanl flag represent the national identity or the sub national identity. I feel sub natioanal in which case Irish symbols of state are not needed. So my for my final design I looked at the features of the Ulster flag.
Which are the Burke Arms. who were Norman Earls of Ulster:
File:Armoiries de Haraucourt 1.svg
And the red hand of Ulster which in Irish Nationalist Mythology is the red hand of Ui Neill 
File:Meuble héraldique Main.svg
I decided to quarter these and display them septate in the flag:
I also used a brighter yellow although I am unsure about this. This flag would be used for Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. While the current Ulster Flag would be used to represent the whole province. 

All designs are mine, all comments and feedback welcome.


  1. I think you have too much time on your hands Samuel, but an interesting post! There is no need for separate flags for the 3 counties. They all have their own flag anyways. Compare the Ulster Flag, Donegal Flag and the flags/crests of the Scottish west coast lords/chieftains and you will be intrigued. Shows the important link across the Gaelic world.
    The Red Hand is thought to derive from the Dé Danann god Nuada and is a symbol for all people.

    1. They dont really have their own flag which is somthing I've covered in the following post http://samsflags.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/irish-county-flags.html
      The use of the red hand on the coats of arms of Scottish (and English) peerage is the mark of a baronet, this was a distinction originally awarded by James I to those who had helped in the plantation of Ulster. There are numerous legends regarding the red hands origins my personal favourite is the boat race one. Its earliest concrete proof of being the symbol of Ulster is on the seal of Aodh O'Neil King of Ulster dating from between 1344-1364. More info is available in my book Northern Ireland flags and emblems which can be purchased at http://www.lulu.com/shop/samuel-c-mckittrick/northern-ireland-flags-emblems/paperback/product-23122458.html I am glad you liked the post.