The Irish Flag
Tricolor Symbol of Hope
The Irish flag is undeniably one of the most powerful Irish symbols.
The three vertical stripes on this flag are a visual reminder of Ireland's political landscape.
The tricolour flag symbolizes the two opposing groups in Ireland, and the hope of lasting peace between them.
The color green on Ireland's flag represents the Catholics who dominate the Republic of Ireland. Contrary to popular belief, the forty shades of green all around the Emerald Isle and their famous shamrocks are not why the Republic of Ireland are represented by the color green.
Actually it represents the Irish Catholic nationalists and their stand for independence from the United Kingdom. In revolutionary America and France, Liberty Trees were planted to symbolize the establishment of a new society based upon the ideals and aspirations of democracy. Therefore, green is commonly the color associated with freedom.
Green was also the color the Irish Catholics always used in the flags they raised during their struggles to end English rule over the Land.
The orange stripe on the Irish flag represents the Protestants of Northern Ireland, or the Loyalists, who remain loyal subjects to the Crown in the United Kingdom.
They have also used this color for centuries, in honor of William of Orange's defeat of Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. After William of Orange defeated King James II, the Protestants dominated most of Ireland for centuries.
Although the tricolour wasn't adopted as the official flag until after Ireland became a Free State in 1921, the Irish flag as we know it today has been around as a symbol for a long time. It was first unfurled by Thomas F. Meagher, a member of the Young Ireland Movement in 1848.
His own words explain best what the meaning of the color white is in Irish flags. It is the hope of every good Irish man and woman that the words of young Mr. Meagher will hold true:
"The white in the center signifies a lasting truce between the "Orange" and the "Green," and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood."
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