Monday, 10 March 2014

Rathlin Island

Today I am going to post a flag design for a small spit of land off the coast of County Antrim. Rathlin Island is an important nature reserve for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and is Northern Ireland's only permanently inhabited island, home to a population of about 100 and steadily growing. Amongst other things it saw the first ever use of the wireless telegraph and was home to King Robert I (The Bruce) of Scotland for a year. this short clip tells you most of the things you need to know about the island.
Just in case you don't know where about it is here is a map:
The island has no flag unlike other islands around the British Isles like the Isle of White, Orkney or Portland to name just a few. 
I have visited Rathlin a few times and one time I saw this flag flying:
At first I thought this to be the island flag, however it is the banner of Robert the Bruce (or at least a version of it as there seems to have been a number of similar heraldic arms which are claimed to have been Robert the Bruce's coat of arms).
The island has some strong Scottish links in its past Robert the Bruce one of Scotland's greatest heroes took refuge there and it was ruled by the Antrim branch of the Clan MacDonald for a couple of hundred year.
My flag design is really a combination of the Cross of St Patrick, Arms of the House of Bruce, and of County Antrim:
 The fact that the Cross of St Patrick and the most of the versions of the Bruce Arms feature a red saltire is a fortunate coincidence as it was incredibly easy to combine them this way.  The towers in the chief and the red lion with a cross come from the Antrim coat of arms.
The symbolism of Robert the Bruce, is evident. The Cross of St Patrick represents the Irish and/or N.Irish identity of the island and the Antrim Arms reflect the County which has jurisdiction over the island.
The towers represent history, heritage but also suggest security, safety and constancy. the Puffins head is reflective of the bird sanctuary and the importance of the wildlife to the island. Although there are a number of colonies of distinctive and rare species on the island the puffin is arguably the most famous and distinctive. The ship on the bottom often features on various coats of arms of members of the MacDonald Clan. It symbolises the island's past rulers and is also reflective of the many shipwrecks that litter the seabed around the island. It also symbolises the natural link between Rathlin's inhabitants and the sea, which any island community is bound to have.  

 please leave a comment.


  1. "The Cross of St Patrick represents the Irish and/or N.Irish identity of the island"

    Hmm No it does not as the aforementioned flag is a purely British construct..
    Please don't insult us.

    1. Actually that's a very ignorant viewpoint, St Patrick's Saltire is accepted as a historical shared symbol, which is why it is used in the PSNI badge for example. The origins of the saltire are unknown and appears in all sorts of symbols all over Ireland, and there is evidence of it being used by historical pro-nationalist figures rather than historical pro-unionist figures. I suggest you read the post I wrote on that very subject