The Four Provinces Flag

[The Four Provinces Flag]
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This flag quarters the arms of the four provinces. As the flag is unofficial, the order in which the provinces appear can vary. Although all of the provincial arms have been in use since the 17th century, it was only in the 19th century that they were given official recognition.


[The banner of Connacht]
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The origin of the two elements displayed on the arms and flag of Connacht is obscure, but it is likely that the arm and sword derive from the arms of the O'Connors, the ruling family in the province before the Norman invasion, and that the black eagle derives from the arms of the Browns, one of the 'tribes' of Galway city. If this derivation is correct, the flag would be a symbol of the 17th-century unity of Gaels and Old English.


[The banner of Leinster]
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The flag of Leinster is indistinguishable from the Green Flag, but the arms of the province (of which the flag is a banner) date from the 17th century or earlier.


[The banner of Munster]
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Three gold crowns on a blue field were the arms of Ireland before the adoption of the harp in the 16th century. The symbolism of the crowns on the Munster flag is not certain, but one possibility is that they may represent the three most important medieval lordships in the province - viz. those of the O'Briens (Thomond), of the Butlers (Ormond) and of the Fitzgeralds (Desmond).


[The banner of Ulster]
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The Ulster flag combines the emblem of the O'Neills of Tyrone (the red hand) with that of the de Burgos (a red cross on a gold field) - the house to which the earldom of Ulster belonged until 1333 when the last de Burgo earl died.