Ireland’s national flag is the distinctive tricolour of green, white and orange.
History suggests that the green represents Ireland’s older Gaelic tradition and community, whilst the orange represents the Protestant supporters of William of Orange and his victory in the Battle of the Boyne. The inclusion of orange in the Irish Tricolour was to reconcile the Protestant Orange community with the Irish independence movement.
The hope of peace between these two cultures is symbolised by the central band of white.
The Irish flag is therefore an emblem of inclusion and union of all Ireland’s people regardless of their religious or political beliefs.
The flag was first unfurled publicly on 7th March 1848 by Thomas Meagher, the leader of Young Ireland, from the window of the Wolfe Tone Club in Waterford. Young Ireland was an Irish nationalist movement of the 1840s. Begun by a group of Irish intellectuals who founded and wrote for the Nation, the movement advocated the study of Irish history and the revival of the Irish (Gaelic) language as a means of developing Irish nationalism and achieving independence. The influence of the group waned after a break with the National Repeal Association in 1846. In 1848 the movement came to an end when a revolt led by the radical wing of the Young Irelanders was suppressed. Although the tricolour was not forgotten as a symbol of union and a banner associated with the Young Irelanders, it was little used between 1848 and 1916. Associated with the secession movement in the past, flown over the GPO during the Rising and capturing the banner of the new revolutionary Ireland, it was soon acclaimed throughout the country as the national flag. It continued to be recognised by official usage during the period 1922 – 1937, when its position as the national flag was formally confirmed by the Constitution of 1937.