Thursday, 13 February 2014

Ulster-Scots flag

Many ethnic groups and peoples have their own flags, such as the Australian aboriginal flag or the Irish-American flag and many others. This is a region of Vexillology I haven't really explored before and I think now is a good time to start. So to begin with I think I will start with my own ethnicity; Ulster-Scots (also known as Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish in the Americas).
Ulster-Scots are people or descendants of people who came to the province of Ulster from Scotland, mostly during the plantations of the 17th Century although it can include emigrations from before then and since.
Ulster-Scots don't exactly have a lack of flags, but a lot of them could be inappropriate for some people to use:

First thing wrong with these flags is the use the former Northern Ireland flag/coat of arms, and while a lot of Ulster-Scots live in N.Ireland many also live in Counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan in the Irish Republic, so these flags could be seen as inappropriate by them. Secondly they are evidently unionist, and while many Ulster-Scots are Unionist, one does not need to be Ulster-Scots to be Unionist, or Unionist to be Ulster-Scots.
The Ulster-Scots Agency I think used this flag for while but it was never a formal flag of the Ulster-Scots people:
Likewise the Ulster Nationalist flag is also often used as an Ulster-Scots flag due to its combination of St Andrew's and St Patrick's Crosses:
But again due to the inclusion of the six pointed star this would be inappropriate for the three Ulster counties in the Republic of Ireland.
This lack of a flag is highlighted on the Wikipedia page on the topic, where the Royal Standard of the kingdom of Ireland, Ulster Flag and St Andrew's Cross are used as associated flags but these are not definitive Ulster-Scots flags.
Some people have had goes at designing one I found these on Wikis, based on the Ulster Flag and Royal Banner of Scotland.

I really like the first one although I think it is just a little too complicated, the other I like the idea but would reframe from using the lion rampant as it is technically a royal banner and while it is often used as a second flag of Scotland, people have often been caught out and fined for using it.

My proposal for an Ulster-Scots flag is a combination of the Ulster flag, St Patrick's Cross and St Andrews Cross combined in a way similar to the Union Flag:

On a personal note I think this is hideous, I don't like the contrast of blue and white that is created. So I decided to create a new design and drop the St Patrick's Cross from the design:
The St Andrew's Cross in invererted for two reasons, first it looks too much like a mock up Union Jack if it isn't, and secondly the inverted St Andrew's Cross is often used to demonstrate a close link or association with St Andrew or Scotland, but at the same time demonstrate something that is distinctively independent of Scotland or even not Scottish! Such examples include the Nova Scotia flag, and Russian naval ensign, another example is Leonardo Piccioni's flag design for an independent Northern Isles.
While this flag is supposed to be universal and can be used by Ulster-Scots or people of Ulster-Scots descent all over the world, I think that the Ulster-Scots of the United States deserve a special flag of their own due to the impact of the Ulster-Scots (or Scots-Irish as they are known as in the USA) had on modern day America. So here is my Scots-Irish-American flag:
Same principle behind the inverted St Andrew's cross. With the American bald headed eagle supporting the red hand of ulster, the three stars can symbolise a variety of things such as Scotland, Ireland, America or past, present, future etc.  The idea of using the eagle came from 1794 'Whiskey' Rebellion flag, which would have been used by Scots-Irish communities during that conflict.

Coat of Arms

I know most ethnic groups don't have, need or use a coat of arms, however fallowing some woeful attempts at heraldry by Ulster-Scots or people wishing to symbolise Ulster-Scots like this I think an exception is in order:
 My design very much inspired by the Nova Scotia coat of arms is this:
The shield itself features an inverted St Andrew's Cross deface with the arms of the Province of Ulster.
The supporters come from both the former Scottish and Northern Ireland coats of arms. The Unicorn symbolising the ancient Kingdom of Scotland and the Elk the historic Kingdom of Ireland. They both carry the flag of their respective kingdom and bear the arms of it.
The base has stones from the Giant's Causeway (a symbol of civic Ulster pride) as well as the Shamrock (of Ireland) and the Thistle (of Scotland).
The crest based on the Scots-Irish-American flag has an eagle supporting six stars in a saltire again represent the significant contribution of the Ulster-Scots to the USA.
The motto is Scots for "Born Fighting" which is taken from the title of a book by US Senator James Webb, himself of Ulster descent who wrote a history of the Scots-Irish from Roman times to modern day America. It reflects the often turbulent history and recognises that often the main contribution of the Ulster-Scots in world wide British Colonies and the nations that came after them was a military one.  


  1. On a recent visit across N.I. it was ironic to see just how many Scottish (St. Andrew) flags were flown... If Scotland votes to leave the UK will those Unionist feel the need to take them down.

    1. Some may however the scots heritage and culture will remain and people will still identify with scotland. Of course ulster folk are incredibly stubbern some may not even reconise or accept Scottish independance (if it happens) and continue to see the scottish flag as a british symbol.

  2. I have clan members in Belfast N.I. who's people built the Titanic.

  3. I have clan members in Belfast N.I. who's people built the Titanic.

  4. The Ulster Nationalist flag is a mess. St. Patrick's red saltier itself is kind of a cockeyed emblem, since red is the color reserved in ecclesiastical heraldry for martyrs and Patrick was not a martyr. And one of the basic rules of heraldry (and traditionally flag design) is the rule of tincture. That rule requires that red saltier in any case only be displayed on a metal (white, representing silver, or yellow, representing gold), and never directly on top of another color such as blue. The rule hearkens back, of course, to the days when standards, coats of arms, and battle flags identified an army or the house for which it fought, and it was in everybody's interest that that every detail be easily perceived even in the thick of battle.

    1. I think St Patrick's cross is treated a little bit unfairly by many pureists it was no doubt attributed to him centuries later as were the crosses of St George, Andrew and David, also St David wasn't a martyr but his cross which is a much more recent attribution is never criticised for it. While I agree the heraldry is not correct in the Ulster Nation flag in fact I would say it contains neither crosses of St Andrew or Patrick as a result, but is perhaps based on them. however I don't think its a mess, it is distinctive and uncomplicated containing only three colours which adheres to vexillological guidelines. Of course the laws of heraldry is good advise for flags but just that advise and while the flag design guidelines are excellent, there are plenty of example of flags not adhering to them and still being good flags (the flag of South Africa for example)