Monday, 3 December 2012

Northern Ireland Green Ensign

This is another idea for a Northern Ireland flag. To see my other ideas click here and here.
I admit that I don't think this is one my better designs but I though I should publish it anyway.

On Saturday in my home town was the annual commemorations of the Shutting of the Gates of Londonderry in 1688 which led directly to the Siege of Derry. At the beginning of the celebrations the 'siege flags' are placed on the city walls. These are replicas of the flags that were used during the conflict.
Notice the green ensign on the left this was supposedly the ensign used by one of the relief ships that saved the city.
The Green Ensign is an historical flag flown by some Irish merchant vessels from the 17th century to the early 20th century. The flag consists of a green field with a golden harp and a canton containing either the English Flag (St George's Cross) or a version of the Union Flag, depending on which flag was used at the relevant point in history. There remains a lively debate concerning whether the flag had any form of local official status within the British Isles or was simply an unofficial, informal flag used by some merchant ships. It was definitely used as it appears in several historical flag charts and books.
File:Green-Ensign 1783.jpgFile:Green Ensign (1701).svg
Left: Irish Ensign on 1783 flag chart. Right: More clear Picture of what it might have looked like
Now you might be wondering what this historic flag which probably wasn't official got to do with modern day Northern Ireland. Well it gave me an idea for the biases of a new flag:

For obvious reason I replaced the Cross of St George with that of St Patrick, and put the NI Assembly flax plant logo on top of the harp, I also used a brighter more emerald green. The problem is today green is considered a nationalist colour. If you have read any of my other posts you would find that I have used the more traditional colour of blue and green together loosely representing unionism and nationalism. But that wouldn't work in this case and I don't think a blue field works as well as green:
The best compromise I see is to put the harp in the traditional blue shield set on a green field:

Now with the flag goes a coat of arms so I designed a new coat of arms. It fallows the standard design basics of previous designs. The Shield is naturally a the one on the flag but to distinguish it from that of the Irish Republic, I placed a red hand on it:

It has shamrocks and Giant's Causeway stones at the base. Flax plant crest, and a Union Flag representing N.Is place in the United Kingdom and Unionism, and a green harp flag representing Irish Nationalism. 
I do relies that to attempt to represent both traditions equally and use a Union Flag and not an Irish Tricolour is somewhat controversial  However I think it would be too ironic to place a Republic of Ireland flag on a NI coat of arms as this would suggest shared sovereignty which, while North and South and UK and Eire often work together, is not the case. 
So I decided to replace the UK flag with St Andrew's Saltire as most unionists are of Scottish descent and would identify with that flag symbolising their Ulster-Scots heritage:
While this represents unionism and nationalism more equally, I feel that it is to political, which should have no place on a coat of arms that represents everyone, so I decided to use St Patrick's Saltire:
However I don't like this so I replaced one with the cross of De Burke the Norman Earl of Ulster. This is appropriate as most of NI would be on the ancient De Burk lands:
I also made a version where the red hand of Ulster is on the De Burk cross turning into the province of Ulster Flag, this is sometimes associated with nationalism, but it has also been used by Ulster Unionists in the past and I think it is becoming more accepted in the unionist community:
Of the Latter two I like both and would use either one of them. Now just to adjust the flag, so that the shield on it matches the coat of arms:
I have removed the flax plant logo from the flag as this is the crest of the coat of arms and unless the full coat of arms is being used on the flag shouldn't be included.
Of course another alternative is to just use a banner of the coat of arms:
But this laves out the green and I feel the green field and St Patrick's Saltire really gives the flag some character.

All Comments are Welcome.

Siege flags picture from the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. Green Ensign Picture and flag chart  from Wikipedia all new flag designs and coats of arms are by Samuel McKittrick

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