Kildare and Wicklow ETB Newsletter Issue 8 - Page 27

First Appearance of the Flag

On 7 March 1848, Thomas Francis Meagher first flew the tricolour from the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club at 33 The Mall in Waterford City, the very same street on which he grew up. The flag flew continuously for a week until the authorities removed it. A renowned orator, he became known as “Meagher of the Sword” and a book of his speeches was published in March 1916, shortly before the Rising. The Thomas Francis Meagher Fife and Drum Band in Waterford still mark the occasion. Also on 7 March 1848, a tricolour was reported to have been carried in a parade to Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Meagher was later sent to Van Diemen's Land but escaped to the US, where he became a Brigadier General in the US Civil War as part of the Irish Brigade and served as acting governor of Montana.

The French Connection

In April 1848, Meagher and two others from the Young Ireland group went to Paris to congratulate the French on overthrowing the king. While there, a group of French women wove an Irish tricolour made from French silk and presented it to them. Meagher returned to Dublin and on 15 April presented this silk tricolour to the citizens of Ireland.

The Official Flag

The tricolour only officially became Ireland’s National Flag in 1937. This is despite being used during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) and by the Irish Free State (1922–1937). The flag was included in the Irish Constitution in 1937, confirming its official status.

A Certain Shade of Green

The green colour featured on the tricolour is a uniquely Irish shade called Pantone 347 and is found on very few other national flags worldwide.

Colours Unite

The choice of the flag's three colours was heavily symbolic and weighted in the country's divided history. As Thomas Francis Meagher declared: "The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood."


The tricolour has become a potent symbol of Ireland and the Irish, both here and around the globe and its varied history has its own intriguing story to tell.

5 Facts about the Irish Flag