The national flag is a tricolour of green, white and orange. The three colours are of equal size, vertically disposed, and the green is displayed next to the
staff. Some say that the flag is gold as opposed to orange,
from the gold harp on the original Green Flag.
This confusion arose in the 1916-22 period when the tricolour
(the current national flag and ensign), which had previously been
quite a marginal and little-known flag, was supplanting the Green
Flag (the current jack) as the principal national emblem. Green
and gold, the colours of the Green Flag, were regarded as the
national colours throughout the nineteenth century and some of
the home-made tricolours from the 1916-22 period were in fact
green, white and gold. There are also some songs from that period
which refer to 'green, white and gold' flags and this helped to keep
the concept alive, but the symbolism of the green, white and orange
dates from 1848.
The flag was first introduced by Thomas Francis Meagher during the
revolutionary year of 1848 as an emblem of the Young Ireland movement, and it
was often seen displayed at meetings alongside the French tricolour.
represents the older Gaelic and Anglo-Norman element in the population, while
the orange represents the Protestant planter stock, supporters of William of
Orange. The meaning of the white was well expressed by Meagher when he
introduced the flag. 'The white in the centre', he said, 'signifies a lasting
truce between the 'Orange' and the 'Green' and I trust that beneath its folds
the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in
This flag didn't come into general usage until the war of independance
(1919-1921). Prior to this, the green flag with gold harp was the main symbol
nationalism. t was not until the Rising of 1916, when it was raised
above the General Post Office in Dublin that the tricolour came to be regarded
as the national flag, but only at the creation of the first "Dail" ( House of
Representatives /Commons) did the current Tricolour become widely used and its use as a national flag is firmly established in the
Constitution: Article 7 of "Bunreacht na hEireann" ( constitution of Ireland) states "The
National Flag is the Tricolour of Green, White and Orange."