Saturday, 24 January 2015

Development & History of Irish flags Pt10: Union Jacks & Green Harp Jacks

Irish Defence Forces ship flying Irish Naval Jack
 and UK courtesy flag in Londonderry 2014 
This post looks in brief at the national flags of Ireland used in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Following the rising of 1798, the parliaments of Ireland and Great Britain were united. The Kingdom of Ireland, ceased to exist and the island was now part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  Officially the national flag of Ireland was like the rest of the UK the Union Flag (or Union Jack) now with a St Patrick's Saltire representing the Irish part of the Union. However for many the spirit of the rebellion was still fresh in their mind, and the green flag with a gold harp, the flag used by the rebels, was used as a defacto Irish flag. This "Irish Jack" continued to be used by some Irish people as their flag at home and abroad, and only ceased to be the prime flag after the Easter Rising of 1916. The first picture of this post is of the LÉ Róisin docked in Londonderry last year. I took this picture when the ship along with HMS Severn visited the city as part of its annual maritime festival. This picture is particularly interesting as the Róisin is flying the two flags this post is about. The green harp flag, which is the Naval Jack of the Irish Defence Forces, and the Union Jack, which is in the role of a courtesy flag as Derry is a Northern Ireland city (although according to Queen's Regulations, the white ensign is the correct courtesy flag for a warship visiting the UK). A rather rare occasion when both flags were seen alongside each other.

The Union Jack

Original Union Flag of James I
combining the English & Scottish banners 
The Union Flag was the official flag of all of Ireland from 1801 to 1922, however its use on the island pre-date the Act of Union of 1801. The pre-1800 Union Flag replaced the St George Cross as the flag flown over military forts and garrisons in 1707, when England and Scotland united. Although there are suggestions it might have been used in that capacity earlier. One of the depictions of Irish forts by the military engineer Thomas Phillip in 1685, shows the fort flying the Union Jack, despite the ensigns of ships in the bay showing a St George Cross in the canton. The information board about the flag at Enniskillen castle also states the the St George's Cross was the national banner until 1606. However it also says that St George's Cross was the flag used in 1688, when the Inniskilling regiments were raised. 
The original Union Flag combines the Cross of St George with that of St Andrew and was introduced in 1606  by King James I/VI to be used on Scottish and English (and by extension Irish) ships, following the union of the crowns. However it was a maritime flag and rarely used on land. It is probably the maritime use of the flag that the information board is mistaken about.
Protectorate Jack 1658-1660, with Irish harp in centre
The absence of Irish representation was noted after the victory of Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads in the War of the Three Kingdoms. As noted in Part 5 the arms of the "Commonwealth" established by Cromwell's parliament, was two shields beside each other, one bearing St George's Cross, the other the Irish harp. This was reproduced in the flag used by "the Admiral, Vice-Admiral, and Rere-Admiral" The Jack of the Commonwealth was also the cross of St George impaled with the gold harp on a blue field. This "cross and harp jack" was used untill 1658, when it was replaced by the "Protectorate Jack." This flag was a Union Jack defaced with the arms of Ireland, it was used from 1658 until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The fact that the harp is placed in such a prominent position, and its preferred use over St Patrick's Cross is interesting. It is sometimes said by critics that this flag is proof that St Patrick's Cross was a later invention, however if one looks at flags of the period, the harp appears in many of the flags of the "Commonwealth" and so it seems natural that is continued in the Protectorate Jack. Likewise the Irish Confederates fought under a red saltire, that often appeared in the Canton of their flags, so any symbol that resembles that would have been tainted in the eyes of the Roundheads. It should also be noted that the original Union Jack continued to be used by Royalist exiles, and a defaced flag would probably be easier to distinguish from this, than one with a red saltire. After the interregnum period of the British Isles ended in 1660, the Kingdom of Ireland continued as before, and this flag being seen as republican ceased to be used.
As already mentioned in part 8 the Union Jack was used by Irish regiments both regulars and militia, throughout the 18th Century. 
The Union Flag of 1801, with the addition
 of St Patrick's Saltire, the current UK flag
Following the Irish Act of Union the flag got its last modification to give it, its' current form, as mentioned in Part 7 the St Patrick's Saltire was added to the union of crosses. It was officially hoisted up the pole, on top of the Bedford Tower of Dublin Castle at noon on 1st January 1801, while cannons in Phoenix Park fired a 21 gun salute. 
It should be noted that while Irishmen and women took the green flag with them all over the world, they also helped take the Union Jack to all corners of the world. A good example is when British sovereignty was re-established on the Falkland Islands in 1833, it was an Irishman, William Dickson who was appointed as the permanent British representative. Dickson who was of Irish origin came to the islands from Argentina, and was provided with a flag and flag pole, and given the duty of flying the British flag from the flag pole, whenever a ship was in harbour. 
George IV entering Dublin
Back in Ireland the Union Jack was used officially and unofficially both by the government, police, military and loyal citizens and private businesses. When the King (George IV) visited Ireland 1821 towns and cities all over the island displayed Union Flags, blue bunting, and interpretations of Royal Banners. The 19th Century was a time degenerate heraldry, and a rather unique flag is depicted welcoming the King in a painting by William Turner. In it's canton is a Union Flag, below which a figure of Hibernia, with the Royal arms in the fly.Unlike his later visit to Scotland where he wore a kilt, the King did not ware traditional Irish dress but military uniform, although he did ware the bonnet with a sprig of shamrock, robes and regalia of the Order of St Patrick.
Standard of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1801-1921
Flag of the Governor of Northern Ireland 1922-73
The flag of the King's representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was a Union Jack defaced with gold harp on a blue shield. A rather interesting similarity to the Protectorate Jack. However this flag was in line with representatives of the sovereign like governors. When the Irish Free State was established as a British Dominion in 1921, it was unique among the other Dominions, as the King's representative didn't fly the Union Flag but a tricolour. The Free State was at this time a republic in all but name. The monarch's representative in Northern Ireland however, did continue the practice of using a defaced Union Flag, however this was defaced with the NI coat of arms, rather than a harp. The shield was on a yellow background, often mistaken for orange. But this was just so it would stand out rather than symbolise Protestantism. Unlike the variant on Wikipedia and Chinese made reproductions where the background is mistakenly white, which is common for other Governor's flags.Like the Ulster Banner this flag ceased to be official when the NI Parliament was dissolved in 1973.  
The ordinary Union Jack continued to be used as the national flag in Ulster, as Northern Ireland remained a constitutional part of the United Kingdom after 1921, and remains so to this day. The Union Jack like most flags in NI is often seen and used as a party emblem, or Unionist symbol as well as the national flag. It is often among the "unauthorised" flags used to "mark territory" by being flown from street furniture. The Union Jack in the Northern Ireland context has been in the media glare recently, due to the Protests of 2013 and 2014. This was as a result of Belfast City Council restricting the number of days it flies the flag, on public buildings including city hall. Many people responded to this with mass protests, not just in Belfast but all over the province. It was seen as the "last straw" in what many saw was the slowly but steady, one small step at a time attempt to eradicate their culture, identity and any symbol of NI being part of the UK, It should be said however that while the demonstrations that turned violent were broadcast all over the world, the majority although perhaps disruptive were peaceful.
Union Flag Protest in Derry 2013
However it should be noted that a designated days pattern is common throughout the United Kingdom. It is common in the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, and by English councils, it has even been the practice of the NI Assembly since its establishment, and the policy of the British government's Northern Ireland Office and NI court houses.  However the timing of the decision 2012, the centenary of the Ulster Covenant and the fact that since it was signed, the flag flew every day, the symbolism of this stopping on the Covenants centenary could only be interpreted as a hostile act. 
 Community relations haven't been the same since 2012. The fact that some councils in NI fly the flag daily, others on designated days and some don't use it at all, is a sad reflection on the lack of constructive, progressive and open flag strategy in N.Ireland.
 The most recent controversy is that the flag will not appear on NI driving license but will appear on those of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Union Jack is the only official national flag of Northern Ireland
For more on the national flag of the United Kingdom click here.

The "Irish Jack"

Jack of the Irish Defence Forces' Naval Service
It is perhaps appropriate that the earliest known use of the flag, now used as the navy jack of the Irish Republic, was also on a ship of war. While the harp can be traced at least to the fifteenth century its first known use on a green flag is not until 1642. Owen Roe O'Neil is reported to have flown it at the masthead of his frigate the St Francis. O'Neil was a soldier in the Spanish army and grandson of the exiled and rebellious clan chief Hugh O'Neil. Upon hearing of the rising of 1641, he loaded his ship with arms and other instruments of war and set sail for Ireland to join the Kilkenny Confederacy. After landing his cargo in County Donegal the St Francis seat sail to Dunkirk in France with tradable goods, presumably to trade for more weapons. While she lay off Dunkirk she reportedly flew in her maintop "the Irish harp in a green field, in a flag." Although the colour of the harp is not given, it was presumably gold/yellow. The exact form of the harp is unknown, it could have been plain pillared, maid pillared, or even beast head pillared. It should be noted that this flag was not widely used by the Confederates, despite it being popularly portrayed as the Confederacy's flag. The cross potent and red saltire were far more popular in 1642.
After 1642 this flag seems to have practically disappeared. Although many of the Volunteer flags some of them green, featured harps as their central badges, it is possibly these flags that inspired those of the United Irishmen rather than a continuation of 1641.
Following the Act of Union the green flags of all sorts were used by the followers of O'Connell seeking repeal of the Union, none more so than the green harp flag, but flags with political slogans were also popular. One flag at one of the "monster meetings" of 1843 featured the national device below which was the word "Independence." The harp was sometimes accompanied by an "antique" crown. Its important to note that many nationalist only wanted Ireland to regain its status as an independent kingdom, with its own parliament rather than an separate republic. This is reflected by the crown, many more radical flags dropped the crown and this became standard as time went on.
An Irish flag captured in South Africa in 1900
As France was again plunged into revolution in 1848, this once again reignited the revolutionary fever in Ireland. A green Irish flag was presented to the new French government in Paris by a delegation of Irishmen living there. This event was noted by the British diplomatic service, and the British Ambassador to France asked for a "friendly explanation" of the incident saying That he "knew no such thing as an Irish flag, and if it was offered to place it by the side of the French colours, it could only be a rebel flag." The French Minister of Foreign affairs reassured the ambassador that France didn't recognize "any national flag in Ireland but that of the United Kingdom." Tensions were high between Britain and France, and no doubt the French were unwilling to provoke the UK.
Another flag that appeared in England at the same time was a green flag. This was borne by the Irish of London at a demonstration in 1848. It was a green flag with a red boarder. Above a harp was the inscription "Irish Confederation" and below it "Let every man have his own country." The club was part of the "Young Ireland" movement. This was one of many political harp flags borne at political meetings throughout the 1840s. When the Dublin Young Ireland movement attempted an uprising, they were led to their rendezvous by a flag and fife and drums. This uprising was little more than a skirmish with the police, and failed to capture the imagination of the Irish people as such very few flags apart from the ones mentioned are known to be associated with it. It should also be noted that the Irish Police the soon to be Royal Irish Constabulary wore green, this was recognised by the Young Ireland leader, Meager who when addressing a rally a few days before this uprising said he was glad to see many of his brother Irishmen listening to him wearing green, he was of course talking about the officers of the Irish Constabulary.  Although the green uniforms were based on those of the British Army's Rifle regiments this note suggests that many Irishmen saw the police uniform colour as significant. Unfortunately the police of the Republic of Ireland An Garda Síochána (literally translating to Guardians of the Peace) decided to adopt a blue uniform rather than continue the green uniforms of their predecessors. This tradition was carried on by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and green continues to be worn by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Irish American greeting card
It was also used by the militant Fenian Brotherhood although it was only one of a variety of flags they used.
Irish flag, according to the
Library Atlas of Modern Geography 1892
The green harp flag was taken by emigrating Irish to all corners of the world, especially British colonies and the United States, where it appeared on many Irish-American greetings cards. It became accepted as ancient flag of Ireland without question, although as is evident in this series that is not the case. None the less the green flag was immortalised in ballad and poem, with lyrics like  "When her kings with standards of green unfurled, led the red branch knights through danger" (Let Erin Remember, T Moore 1779-1852), and as such it was accepted as the Unofficial flag of Ireland. It even appeared in flag charts, atlases and encyclopedias. It is through this acceptance that it gradually lost its radical appeal. It became the de facto flag of Ireland and not the flag of radical nationalism.
 However it was still not without its controversies.
In 1885 during the early days of the Home Rule debates, an effort was made to reignite the radicalism of the green harp flag. There was an appending visit to ireland by the Prince of Wales. The the Lord Mayor of Dublin who was a nationalist, said that the moment the Prince arrived on the island, he would take down the flag of Dublin, which had by custom flown over the Mayors residence when he was in residence. This insult offended the students of Trinity College who one night raided the Lord Mayor's garden and stole the flag! The Dublin flag was a heraldic banner of the city's coat of arms, three burning castles on a blue field.
Flag of the City of Dublin
The nationalists responded by ordering a new flag. This was a green harp flag, but in the canton it had the Dublin City banner! Not only did this offend the unionists and establishment but also the nationalists! Many were offended by the arms of a city in the canton of "the national banner" The nationalist advocate P.J.Tynan said "Dublin Municipal Council changed the city flag to the national colours, degrading the immortal green of the nation to the mere emblem of a municipality." Despite all these criticisms the flag survived and is still the city flag of Dublin.
In 1906 during the Athens Olympics, Irishman Peter O'Conner, won silver in the long jump. He successfully objected to the raising of the Union Flag in his honour, and a green harp flag provided by some of his supporters was raised instead.

The 16th (Irish) Division of the 1st World War petitioned to have an official divisional flag. This was a green harp flag with 16th(Irish) Division. This was declined on the grounds that flags were borne by battalions (regimental colours) and not divisions, however green harp flags were used by Irish troops in the Great War. There is a photograph of John Redmond presenting Irish Volunteers with one before they depart for the front. There is also a report of the Connaught Rangers marching behind one in Gallipoli. The story says that they had a green harp flag flying and the pipes and drums playing Killaloe, much to the delight of nearby French troops. A detachment of Foot Guards even presented arms mistaking the flag for a regimental colour!
 The acceptance of the green harp flag as the national emblem is demonstrated here, infact had the Easter Rising not happened it could well have been the modern flag of Ireland. The green harp flag was even used in recruitment posters for the army:

The last one is interesting as it places the Irish flag alongside other national flags including Britains which suggests Ireland is a separate entity to Great Britain, which seems odd for a British Army poster.
The green harp flag has even been the basis of the flags of Irish regiments. The flag of the Ulster Defence Regiment for example is a green harp flag with a central red stripe.
Flag of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1970-92
Today though apart from its use as a Naval Jack, the green harp flag is primarily associated as the provincial flag of Leinster. a harp on green field can be traced as the Leinster arms as far back as 1651. You might note from Part 2 that arms used as national devices in the past are now provincial emblems, the best example being the three crowns of Munster. Could this be the case with the arms of Leinster, could they just be a corrupted version of the arms of Ireland? Could the confusion of the Leinster flag and "national" green harp flag be traced to the Confederation of Kilkenny (Kilkenny is in Leinster)? Could it be that the flag flown from O'Neil's ship was a token to Leinster, the capital province of the confederacy, rather than Ireland?  If so then the fact that the green harp flag became accepted as the national device would be one of the great ironies of history. It should be noted that although both versions of the Irish harp are heraldically speaking the same, the Leinster flag has by custom adopted the plain pillared harp only.
The flag of Leinster
The green harp flag has even had limited acceptance among Ulster Unionists. one good example is the arms attributed to the 36th (Ulster) Division of the 1st World War, features two emblems in its chief. One is a Union Jack symbolising Britain but the other is a harp on a green field symbolising Ireland.
It should be noted that these are attributed arms, there is no evidence of the 36th Division using them as divisional insignia (although they did appear to use a red hand on white shield), and were probably adopted after the war, for use by those who identified with the division and possibly veterans. It seems appropriate that I end the post here as I started it with the two emblems side by side. 

Coat of Arms of Winston Churchill

As it is 50 years to the day of the death of The Rt Hon Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA, (thats a lot of letters lol) the celebrated wartime leader and  according to a BBC poll in 2002 the greatest Briton of all time, I think its appropriate to do a post on his coat of arms. Churchill himself had quite interesting coat of arms:

It includes in the first and fourth quarters the traditional Churchill arms, a white lion rampant on black field. These were probably borne by his ancestor, the Grandfather of the first Duke of Marlborough (Churchills personal hero) in 1619. The addition of a canton was granted to Sir Winston Churchill (1620-1688) by Charles II, in recognition to his loyalty as an MP and the services Sir Winston had given his father Charles I as Captain of Horse. The canton took the form of a St George's Cross.The Churchill crest is blazoned as a Lion couchant guardant Argent, supporting with its dexter Forepaw a Banner Gules, charged with a dexter Hand appaumée of the first, Staff Or. (This crest, with the dexter Hand appaumée converted into a V-sign, forms the logo of the International Churchill Society and Finest Hour.) The Churchill motto Fiel Pero Desdichado (Spanish for "Faithful but Unfortunate")

The second and third quarters are the Spencer arms. The shield of Hugh le Despencer in the fourteenth century was Quarterly Argent and Gules, in the second and third Quarters a Fret Or, over all a Bend Sable.the Bend Sable had acquired three Escallops Argent (see figure 4), partly to distinguish this branch of the family from other Spencers.

Because the First Duke of Marlborough left no surviving son, the title was allowed to pass to his eldest daughter in 1722 and then (in 1733) to the son of his next daughter, who had married Charles Spencer, Third Earl of Sunderland. The Fifth Duke (1766-1840), who had been born a Spencer, was authorised in 1817 to take and use the additional name of Churchill, in order to perpetuate the name of his illustrious great-great-grandfather. At the same time he was empowered by Royal Licence to quarter the arms of Churchill with his paternal coat of Spencer. It is from this date that the familiar design of Churchill quartering Spencer originates.

The reason the Churchill arms were given precedence to the Spencer arms is because the Marlborough Dukedom was more senior.

The Spencer crest was blazoned Out of a ducal Coronet Or, a Griffin's Head between two Wings expanded Argent, gorged with a Collar gemel and armed Gules. It should be noted that the coronet is part of the crest and not below the helm, Churchill was never a Duke. It is also interesting that both Crests are displayed on two separate helms. In British heraldry if two crests are displayed they are usually, side beside or one over the other, over a single helm.

The shield of the Manner of Woodstock, a blue shield with three fleur-de-lees on a St George Cross was awarded to the Fifth Duke of Marlborough's arms were quartered in 1817 in recognition of his Ancestor's (the first Duke) victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1705. the manner was given to the first Duke as a reward for this achievement.

The coat of arms was passed down the family line in the traditional way down to the Winston Churchill. He was offered a grant of supporters in 1945 but declined, as he felt the arms were already rather busy. The last element the Order of the Garter, was added in 1953, when Churchill was made a knight commander of the order by the new Queen Elizabeth II, which Churchill reluctantly accepted

This last picture is of the nameplate of the Steam Locomotive SR 21C151 / BR 34051 named in his honor, the same engine that hauled his funeral train to his final resting place and now owned by the National Railway Museum. This unique version oh his arms displays his order of the bath and Companions of Honour.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Judge Rinder; courtroom flags

I was flicking through TV channels on my day off and stopped on the UK's Independent Television (ITV) channel, as my interest was sparked by a pair of flags in a courtroom.
ITV's Judge Rinder is a British version of the US show, Judge Judy, where a judge presides over various disputes usually money related on TV.
I don't think Judge Rinder is in an official court, as to my knowledge filming in a UK courtroom is illegal.  I don't normally watch these sort of shows but the flags sparked my interest. It seems to have copied a lot from Judge Judy, for example the gavel (British Judges don't have gavels) and the flags behind the Judge:
I have never come across flags decorating a British courtroom before, so I expect the idea of flags here was copied from the Americans. The national device you normally find in a British courtroom is the Royal coat of arms. As this isn't an official courtroom it would be inappropriate to use the royal arms, so the national flag is a nice touch, but look at the flag on the Judge's left. In the USA the flag on the Judge's left is the state flag. I know in the UK it might be inappropriate to put an England, Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland flag etc so ITV made their own flag. It is the show's logo on a blue field. It is one of the worst flags I've seen, come on ITV you could make a better flag for the show, even if it was the Scale's of Justice symbol on a blue field, it would be better than the one  with text used.
Here is my idea for a decorative indoor flag for the show:
As it is a decorative indoor flag, I based it on the design of army regimental colours. It features the Scales of Justice logo behind the Judge, placed within a floral wreath, representing the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, with ITV's logo in each corner. The field of the flag is blue. All together I think this gives the flag a more "official" impression, and is certainly better than the logo flag.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Je Suis Charli flag design

This is my response to the terrible events in France. I decided to make a special flag in defiance of the attacks on civil liberty in that country. It is based on the flag used by the Texans at the Battle of Gonzalas.

Instead of a cannon it has a pencil symbolising freedom of speech and expression, it is also in the French colours representing national unity of all the people of France. The "Come and Take It" slogan is now the defiant "Je Suis Charlie" The star remains unchanged and still represents sovereignty and freedom. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Development & History of Irish flags Pt9: the Rising of 1798

Seal of the United Irishmen
1798 the year of the United Irishmen's Rebellion. The moment which modern Irish nationalism traces its origins to. Inspired by successful revolutions in France and America, all of Europe including Ireland was in revolutionary mode in this period. In fact it was not uncommon to see French and American flags flying in Ireland as a show of solidarity. The society of United Irishmen was launched in 1791, as a liberal political party opposed to the so called "Protestant Ascendancy" and Penal Laws. It was comprised primarily of Catholics in the South although much of its leadership were Protestant Presbyterians, in Ulster many of the rank and file were also Presbyterians, who were also discriminated against by the Penal Laws. In 1798 rebellion broke out, and although put down by government forces (much of it including the Militia & Yeomanry of the last post) the effect of this  rising would be far reaching into the next century. The colour of the moment was green, and the emblem was the harp. But these were not the only symbols or colours of this event.
The Liberty Cap, a symbol borrowed from the French Revolutionaries featured in the Society's Seal. This had also featured in some of the flags of Volunteers (many former Volunteers joined the rebellion, although most fought in the government militia), as was the harp. Both version of the Irish harp was used by the rebels, the winged maid of Erin and the one with the plain pillar. In popular culture Éire Go Brách(Ireland forever) was the main motto or slogan used. But there were others. On the flags this cry did appear, it was often written in poor Irish, with "Brách" in particularly being misspelled as "Braugh" or "Bra" and "Éire" appearing as the more anglicised "Erin." The society's motto on its seal was simply  "Equality" and "Its new strung and shall be Heard" a reference to the harp, representing the people. The majority of the other slogans were in English or sometimes latin. "Liberty and Equality being one of the more popular, The Catholic rebels of Wexford chalked JHS on their hats (Jesus Hominum Salvator, latin Jesus Savior of mankind).
The green harp flag was widely used in this rebellion, and although there are earlier examples of such flags, this was its first widespread use. The result was that it was firmly established as the de facto national flag until the 1916 rising.  Many modern Irish people may have the impression that their colour was always "their own beloved green" but this was also the first large scale use of the colour green as the national colour. Historically the national colour of Ireland was blue, as this was (and still is) the colour of the national coat of arms. Blue was also associated with St Patrick with a shade being known as 'St Patrick's blue' there is no St Patrick's green.
Why green was adopted is not entirely clear, It has been suggested that it was Protestants in the North who chose the colour by combing blue and orange. However the most accepted and probably more likely explanation is that it's a reference to the shamrock. It is also interesting to note that green was not just used on flags. While most rebels were not issued with uniforms there was an attempt to provide ones, mostly these were white britches, a green tunic, and a black hat with green plume. The green harp flag was carried by the insurgents in Wexford, Wicklow, Kildare, Down and Mayo, but their is no direct evidence they were used elsewhere.
Battle of Vinehill note the plain green flag of the rebels
It does appear though that green flags of some discription were raised wherever rebels assembled. Green Colours were ordered by the would be insurgents of Ulster in preparation before the rebellion, and the United Irishmen's proclamation spoke of "the National flag of the Sacred Green." Many of the songs of the time speak of raising "the green flag of liberty" and state "The green flag would be hoisted through town and counterie." It was reported when rebels entered Wexford in May 1798 the had "green banners flying" and hoisted "a large green flag above the barracks." They also found the houses of the town decorated with green bunting. It is also reported that they had banners "of all colours apart from orange." A Mr Edward Hay who was in Wexford at this time reported that the flags were made by lady sympathisers, who made the flags out of their coloured petticoats, and decorated them "according to their different fancies" so that no two flags were alike. There are also reports of white flags being used, Wexford rebels marching in Carlow were said to have "two stand of white colours." Plain green flags appear to have been the most prominent emblem of the rebels.

There were other devices on rebel flags as well as harps we know of three flags that were present during some of the more sinister events of the rebellion, that tainted how it is viewed by Protestants to this day. The most well known of theses is the flag carried at Arklone by a rebel priest Fr Michael Murphy, who led a charge carrying the flag, and was killed thirty yards from the government barricade. This flag is described as "a fine standard with a cross and Liberty or Death inscribed on it. We are not told the flags colours but green has been attributed to it.
Another flag with a cross was carried by the followers of Thomas Dixon when they murdered more than 70 Protestant prisoners on Wexford Bridge on 20 June. It was a black flag with a "bloody (red) cross" on one side and a white one on the other above which were the letters "M.W.S." What the letters mean is unclear but one source Mr George Taylor who was in the town at the time, attributed them to meaning "Murder without Sin," implying that the insurgents thought there was nothing wrong with killing Protestants. Judging the horror he saw and lived through you can understand why Mr Taylor might make such a statement, and the actions of those rebels certainly don't disproof it, it is unlikely that is what the letters ment. A Mr T Crofton Croker who made inquires about the event five years after it happened was told that the letters ment "Marksmen, Wexford, Shelmailer" which is also probably not true. Another rebel leader Joseph Holt had his men carry a green flag with a harp on one side and his initials "JH" on the other.
A print of an engagement between the military and rebels near the hills of Kilcullen, Co Kildare, clearly shows two rebel flags. One depicts the letters "IU" within a wreath, what the wreath is made of isn't clear. In the canton it has a saltire and harp, on the bottom of the flag was the battle cry "Erin go Bra." The other flag has a harp in the centre and cross in the canton. The latter flag also seems to appear on a print of the battle of New Ross. The letters "IU" on the former is thought to stand for "Ireland United." The saltire is interesting it could be a St Patrick's Saltire, or possibly the unit number in Roman numerals, or this might be the case with the "IU" which could be supposed to be "IV." Although this is just speculation.  On a final note to the rising of 1798, it should be remembered that the rebels were supported with arms and military assistance from the fledgling French Republic. The French landed in Mayo and set up their headquarters in the residence of the Bishop of Killala, where a green flag, beraing a harp and the inscription of "Erin go Braugh" was flown over the building. It is not clear if this flag was brought by Irish who landed with the French, or if it was provided locally. A french unit colour of the 70th Demi-Brigade was captured by the Armagh Militia in Co Longford when the French surrendered on 7 September. This flag is preserved in Armagh Church of Ireland Cathedral. It is a white flag with "Republique Francaise" embroidered within a laurel wreath. It also depicts a variant of the national emblem of France.
A mention should also be giving to the attempted uprising of Robert Emmet in 1803, shortly after the Act of Union with Great Britain. A flag almost certainly used in 1798 was found by the authorites in the building he was storing his equipment for rebelion. This was a green flag with a golden winged female pillar, behind which was a pike with a Liberty cap, and the cry "Erin go Bragh" on a scroll.  This is the flag pictured at the top of this post.

For more in this series see the links below or click the label History of Irish flags:

Also in the Series

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A look at 2014

A Happy New year to you all, I hope Santa was good. I would like to review the progress of the year past, and set out my aims this year that was piped in. 2014 saw 53 posts an increase from the 35 of 2013. I hope to be able to maintain this increase this year. Most of these posts were British or Irish based posts, although there were a few posts that were based on wider geographical areas particularly Asia and North America. I hope to continue a wider outlook on world vexillology and heraldry as well as that more closer to home.
In October a designed a badge for a UK national football team. In this post I also designed a football strip which i rather enjoyed. Although not directly linked to vexillology or heraldry, I might have one or two experimental uniform related posts.
UKFA football strip from October
I also started a few series of posts. The first one in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games. This was a mixed success. IIt Featured the most viewed post of all Time! However I was not able to spend as much time on it as I liked, and got nowhere near as many posts done before the opening of the Games. The second series is a work in progress, on the history and development of Irish flags, I am enjoying this series and hope and currently researching the next post, which will be about the United IIrishmen's uprising in 1798 and the flags they used. At the moment I am planning this to be followed by a post about the flags of the flags 19th Century militant nationalism. The green harp flag, flags of Irishmen in foreign service Pre-partition flags, flags of The Home Rule Debate, flags of WW1&2, the history of Tricolour, History of Irish flags at sea, Modern Military flags, Flags of Modern Republicanism, Unionist flags in Northern Ireland, and the current use of flags in Ireland. This is the current plan and might change as the series develops.
Irish flag from Neptune Francois (Amsterdam 1693)
Last year I also did two posts related to games, these are very popular post and as such are something that will continue.
I also adopted a new design of personal flag:
based on my coat of arms design but something that maintains the symbolism of the entire armorial achievement which a banner of arms does not. I do maintain the use a banner of arms for special occasions. You can read more about it on this post, but there is a slight difference in the shade of red on the split saltire. It is crimson to reflect my home city.
What also might be of interest are the 10 most popular post of all time, these currently are (at time of writing)

  1. CG1: Commonwealth Games
  2. Empire Total War (game flags)
  3. American State flags (more alternatives)
  4. Northern Ireland Flags guide
  5. National flag of the United Kingdom
  6. Federal UK - Devolution to English Regions.
  7. Most Northern Irish people want new flag?
  8. Allied Nations (WW2)
  9. Northern Ireland Flag and Coat of Arms.
  10. Skyrim Banners (game flags)
Hopefully this list will soon include new ones, from this year. I look forward to shareing more posts with you this year and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

A Guid Ne'er Year
Happy New Year