[Naval Service jack]
[Cliceáil ar an mbratach chun í a mhéadú.]

[The Green Flag]

Above: The jack of the Naval Service (left) and the Green Flag flying (right).


The Green Flag was the unofficial national flag from 1798 until the early years of the 20th century. A gold harp on a blue field (see the Presidential Standard) was the arms of Ireland since the 16th century, but the United Irishmen changed the colour of the field from blue to green - the colour that symbolised revolution in the late 18th century. Leaves, branches and 'liberty' trees were frequently employed as republican emblems at the time:

What have you got in your hand?
A green bough.
Where did it first grow?
In America.
Where did it bud?
In France.
Where are you going to plant it?
In the crown of Great Britain.

[The flag of the United Irishmen]
[Click on this flag for an enlarged image.]

[A Dublin mural]

Above: A flag of the type carried in 1798 (left) and a commemorative mural in Dublin (right).

The Green Flag was widely carried during the rebellion of 1798 - often with the motto of the United Irishmen, 'Éire go brách' ('Ireland forever'), below the harp. The poet Mícheál Óg Ó Longáin, a United Irishman, wrote as follows in that year:

Go bhfeiceam Éire saor gan daoirse
Is an bhratainn uaine in uachtar scaoilte,
Gach tíoránach claoincheardach coimhtheach
In ainm an diabhail is gan Dia dá gcoimhdeacht.

(May I see Ireland free and without oppression
And the green flag flying on high,
With every treacherous foreign tyrant
In hell and with no protection from God.)

Right: The Green Flag and the flag of the United States can both be seen in a sketch of Donnybrook fair made in 1830.

[Donnybrook fair, 1830]

The Green Flag quickly won popular acceptance as the national flag of Ireland. It was used by the followers of Daniel O'Connell, by the Fenians (for the most part), and by the supporters of Home Rule from the time of Parnell until the collapse of the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1918. Popular rejection of the flag at that point can be partly attributed to its use by the British army in recruitment campaigns during the First World War.

Right: Detail from a British army recruitment poster.

[Recruitment poster, 1914-8]

The Green Flag today

[The Rotunda, Dublin]

Left: The Green Flag flying over the Rotunda in Dublin, along with the national flag and the flag of the European Union.

Below: The jack of the Naval Service.

[The naval jack]

[Enlarged detail from the picture on the left]

The historic national flag continues to be used as a national emblem by the public.

The Green Flag is also the Naval Service jack and is being worn by a naval vessel in the pictures in the second row above.