The flag of Ireland – And Thomas Meager

Jul 11, 2013

The flag of Ireland – And Thomas Meager

The national flag of Ireland is frequently referred to as the Irish tricolor.  Beginning at the flag post, the colors are green, white, and orange.

The Irish government has described the symbolism behind each color. Green representing the Gaelic tradition of Ireland, orange representing the followers of William of Orange in Ireland, and white representing the aspiration for peace between them.

Presented as a gift in 1848 to Thomas Francis Meagher from a small group of French women sympathetic to the Irish cause (independence from British land lords), it was not until the Easter Rising of 1916, when it was raised above the General Post Office in Dublin, that the tricolor came to be regarded as the national flag of the Republic of Ireland.

The flag was adopted in 1919 by the Irish Republic during its war of independence, and subsequently by the Irish Free State (1922–1937), later being given constitutional status under the 1937 Constitution of Ireland.

Researching the history of the Irish Tricolor, I found Thomas Meagher was a very interesting person in both Irish and American history. He was an Irish nationalist and leader in the Rebellion of 1848. After being convicted of sedition, he was first sentenced to death, but received transportation for life in Australia. In 1852 he escaped and made his way to the United States, where he settled in New York City. Meagher studied law, worked as a journalist, and traveled to present lectures on the Irish cause.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, Meagher joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general. He was most notable for recruiting and leading the Irish Brigade, and encouraging support among Irish immigrants for the Union.

Following the Civil War, Meagher was appointed acting governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, Meagher drowned in the Missouri River after an accidental fall from a steamboat at Fort Benton.

In much of Celtic symbolism, the stories reveal so much more than we might first think. For the Celtic Cultural Alliance, I’m Silagh White. Slainté