Sunday, 13 September 2015

Fresh Flags: Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Ireland

I was directed to this website via Facebook and thought I'd share it. Its principally concerned with a new Northern Ireland flag, but also has ideas for a new Republic of Ireland flag, and All Island flag for sporting events and cross border bodies.
The website FreshNI can be found here.
I would like to share the designs, which are interesting and generally rather good, and offer some comments.

Northern Ireland

First off is the Northern Ireland (or Ultonia from the latin for Ulster as the website thinks is a more distinct name, I will continue to use Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Ireland for the island so as not to overtly complicate things) flag proposal:
All these designs are attributed to Palomca, who is responsible for a number of NI flag designs, but
this is what he considers his best. It is rather good in that it is simple and not at all complicated, with minimal colours. The only suggestion I would make is to colour the central hexagon (a reference to both the six counties and the Giant's Causeway) possibly gold (red and gold are colours associated with the province of Ulster):
The change is minimal but it really emphasizes the central emblem better, but that is only my own personal tastes.
As well as a flag a coat of arms is also proposed:

As seen in the image its really a modified variant of the former Northern Ireland coat of arms but with the design changed on the shield, and a few other modifications. I particularly like the compartment with the arrangement of six shamrocks and six flax flowers. I like the Ulster-Scots reference in the flag staffs, something I have also alluded to in one of my NI coat of arms designs, although more directly with a St Andrew's Saltire:
too much! My design
The supporters in my design featured a lion representing the British identity bearing a St Andrew's Cross for the Ulster-Scots, and an Irish elk with the historic green harp flag representing the Irish identity, of course both supporters are working together to support the shield. However my arms are very complicated with too many different symbols. Where as the above mentioned proposal is rather simple which works. I am not quite sure with replacing the cross of de Burgh with the lion rampant (a royal banner) however the fact that it is not the complete banner but the lion only alleviates my concerns around using a royal flag. Originally my arms had a motto in both Irish and Ulster-Scots but it is probably better to leave such text out for political ease .
Overall I approve.

Republic of Ireland

It is suggested that the Republic of Ireland change its flag to a gold saltire on green field defaced with the harp from the state coat of arms:
The rational behind this is that the tricolour is not a distinctive design the same way the stars and stripes or Union Jack is. Where as this is, change the colours to black and white and this is still a recognisable flag.
At first I was sceptical about a gold saltire. I have seen various flag design including a saltire to mimick St Patrick's cross, including blue, white and green crosses. This is not really how heraldry works, and I was fearful that this flag might be another example of these poorly planned designs. St Patrick's Cross specifically a red saltire. 
However this design is a rather effect combination of symbols, including the harp, the tricolour and St Patrick's Cross. The gold colour of the saltire comes from mixing the orange of the tricolour with the red saltire to make gold, which fixes the problem of a meaningless saltire. 
Green and gold are also distinctive colours in Irish nationalism.
The only problem I have is that the coat of arms in the middle belong to Leinster. The Irish arms are a blue shield:
I would change the colour again which emphasises the central emblem and it keeps the colours to a minimal of three.

Ireland

There is no universally accepted formal flag flag for the island of Ireland. This has lead to sporting organisations and other all island and cross boarder bodies using a variety of flags often unique to their organisation.  
According to the website  Palomca's main influence in this design were souvenirs from the Catholic Eucharistic Congress of 1932, when they celebrated 1500 years since St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. Both feature St Patrick's Cross but on one the field is green, and he simply improved upon it by observing the rule of tincture:
What I really like about this design in conjunction with the other two, is that it looks like a combination of the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland flags. I don't know if that was intended but nonetheless its an effect I really like, and if these two flags were adopted would make this design a perfect all island flag.
  

Ulster-Scots

The design of a Ulster-Scots flag features a St Patrick's Cross combined with that of St Andrew, a theme that has appeared on other flags from Ulster. Being from that proud stock of people myself I am sympathetic for an ethnic flag. The design in question also features a red hand of Ulster and red lion of Scotland:
I think the positioning of the red hand and lion is a little odd, personally I would place them on the top and bottom quarters so that they have a more central position:
 I personally think this is a better variant of the design but I still think it looks odd. The combination of Scottish and Ulster symbols is not an easy one, and the flag would look quite distinctive without the hand and lion so I would suggest dropping them and sticking with the saltires. Or if you want to reinforce the Ulster symbolism just drop the lion. I think most Ulster-Scots my self included have a deep attachment to the red hand (which is odd if one considers its history) that we don't have to the same degree for the lion rampant.  
Well thats it, please feel free to comment and make sure you visit the website for yourself. Many thanks to Palomca for allowing me to post and share his material. 

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for your link and "review" Sam. Some comments in response.

    Firstly, Northern Ireland. I actually tried the colour combinations you suggested there, but came to the conclusion that the extra colours just clashed too much with the overall design, and will have to disagree and say I still think it looks better with a simpler two colours, which I think already have quite a nice contrast :P The gold from the De Burgh cross can also be interpreted a symbol of the local Norman conquest, and I don't see any reason why it needs specific inclusion in what is a contemporary flag for Northern Ireland. Red and white are just as much Ulster colours.

    For the Republic of Ireland flag, I think it was lacking a little bit of contrast so I updated it to tweak the shade of green to match the darker shade in the all-Ireland flag. I also tried that blue combination too, but again I think the three colours clash a bit :P I'm not sure the Leinster thing is such a big deal given the prominence of the harp already on RoI coins and presidential flag, the fact that it is the seat of the capital, as well as the prominence of the colour green in Irish Nationalist symbolism in general. Note that sometimes Leinster background is rendered blue too (scroll up and you will see one such rendition on this page in the first Eucharistic Congress souvenir!), as well as Leinster rugby using blue. If it is a big deal then they could just remove the defacement and go with a plain saltire. Alternatively, the tricolour could just remain as it also blends in well with the all-Ireland design, and I only ever intended the RoI section as a sort-of optional addendum.

    As for the all-Ireland flag, yes, that effect of combining the north and south designs was very intentional! I made this clearer.

    The arrangement of the Ulster-Scots flag is meant to be geographical -- Ulster to the West and Scotland to the East. It's meant as a "Dalriadan" flag also for the likes of those on the west coast of Scotland who feel an affinity to Ulster, so I wouldn't eliminate the Scottish lion-rampant just because those in Ulster like the red-hand more (and the lion-rampant is seen quite often in Scottish football for example, so I'm sure many Ulster-Scots in Ulster have some recollection of it). I agree though in that I also thought this one would look good, and indeed perhaps better, as a plain saltire which accompanies the proposed all-Ireland flag quite nicely. The only reason I didn't propose it is because there is already an old South African flag that looks like that called the "Burgers Flag". However, given that the "Burgers Flag" seems to only have been used between 1874-1875, and uses a different shade of blue, I think it will be safe to nick it! I added an addendum with such a proposal.

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    1. Thank you
      the yellow/gold background of the hexagon was solely on personal taste
      As the shield on the RoI design its not the harp but the colour on the shield, in modern heraldry, the colour of the shield is what differentiates the two coat of arms. How attached are you to a shield, a green circle might work better? However regardless of a shield or circle you could say its reflective of the historic green harp flag of Ireland rather than any coat of arms.
      That was cleaver of the Ulster-Scots flag reflecting Ulster to the West and Scotland to the east I didn't pick up on that. I didn't know about the Burgers flag interesting.

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    2. You may have had inspiration from other sources! ;)

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=854228717011&set=o.163088927053188&type=3&theater

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    3. Posted these online in 2009 before that group existed, so you might want to check the source of your own inspiration ;)
      https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Contributions/Palomca&dir=prev&target=Palomca

      (e.g. Saint Patrick's flag for Northern Ireland golden shield.svg)

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    4. I was talking specifically about the Ulster-Scots flag, which I don't see among your earlier creations. :)

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    5. Oh, I see what you mean with the West/East thing, but I just hadn't uploaded it. Great minds must just think alike ;)

      ... though for Ulster-Scots I'm starting to lean towards the simpler version without those West/East defacements.

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  2. Think you have a great site there and great well thought designs. I would also suggest that the island flag should have blue on it as the old people say that blue (not green ) were worn on St Patrick's day as late as the nineteenth century. Also could a cross not a saltire be considered for the island flag as two of the greatest (non political) symbols throughtout the island were St Bridget's cross and the Celtic Cross in every cemetery on the island. I also like the designs on the facebook site "new flag for ireland - https://www.facebook.com/New-Flag-for-Ireland-143709765683971/timeline/ - my complements again on your site.

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