Image of the Irish Tricolor
The Flag of Ireland - Green Harp
The green harp flag dates back to Confederate Ireland in 1642 and was initially a plain gold harp on a green background. The version shown below was used in Ireland during the 1800's, the original harp was changed to include a mythical woman's head and torso complete with wings which formed the head of the harp! She was known as the 'Maid of Erin'. Another version of the green harp flag incorporating the slogan "Erin go Bragh" or Ireland Forever was also in use before the Tricolor was adopted.
Image of the Green Harp Irish Flag - 17th Century
Ireland - National Flag
As a nation, the Irish do not have a national flag. The cross of Saint Patrick represented by a red cross on a white background was hoped to be used as the national flag of Ireland but most of the Irish nationals do not accept this cross as they believe it is a symbol of the United Kingdom and indeed a British invention. It is occasionally used by the Church of Ireland and Irish Loyalists. In 1999 the Church of Ireland banned the flying of all flags apart from the St Patricks Flag shown below but this has not been observed by all. The St Patrick Cross is also referred to as the Saint Patrick Saltier and was established in 1783 when the chivalry of the Order of Saint Patrick was established. The cross is incorporated into several flags such as the Union Jack and the flag of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In June 2012, during the Queen's Jubilee River Thames Pagent, the barge 'Gloriana' displayed flags for the four nations of the United Kingdom, the Saint Patrick's Cross was flown on this occasion to represent Northern Ireland.
Image of Saint Patricks Cross Flag
The Flag of Ireland - Northern Ireland Flag
Flags in Northern Ireland can be controversial! The Irish Tricolor and the Union Jack are both flags which can be seen displayed all over Northern Ireland and usually refer to the religious and political views of the people. The Nationalist (supporters of a United Ireland) fly the Irish tricolor whereas the Loyalists (Supporters of Northern Ireland remaining a part of the United Kingdom) fly the Union flag. Unfortunately flags in Northern Ireland are often used to indicate a persons political or religious views and particular areas are even 'marked' as Nationalist or Loyalist by every household and even lamp posts displaying some sort of flag. Some citizens even going so far as to paint the curb stones on the entrance to their street either red, white and blue or green, white and gold! Look at the image below for an example of a loyalist area which was found when driving through County Antrim.
Image from Northern Ireland of Loyalist Area
The Flag of Ireland - Union Flag and Ulster Banner
The Union flag or Union Jack as it is also known is the official flag for the United Kingdom which incorporates England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Union Jack was adopted in 1801 when the Union of Great Britain and Ireland took place. The flag is made up from three individual symbols:
Red cross of Saint George who is the patron saint of England (the red cross has been given a white edge)
Red diagonal cross of St Patrick who is the patron saint of Ireland
The White diagonal cross of Saint Andrew who is the patron saint of Scotland
Northern Ireland Flag - Union Flag
The Ulster Banner was the official flag used by the Stormont government from 1953 to 1972 to represent Northern Ireland. Also known as the Flag of Northern Ireland, Red Hand Flag and Ulster Flag. After the Northern Ireland Constitution Act was passed in 1973 resulting in the Parliament of Northern Ireland being dissolved, the Ulster Banner lost its 'official' status.
Northern Ireland Flag - Ulster Banner
The Flag of Ireland Facts
In 1999 the Church of Ireland banned the flying of all flags apart from the St Patricks Flag
In the 2012 during the Queen's Jubilee River Thames Pageant, the barge 'Gloriana' displayed flags for the four nations of the United Kingdom, the Saint Patrick's Cross was flown to represent Northern Ireland
The Gaelic for Irish Flag is 'bratach na hÉireann'
The national flag of the Republic of Ireland is known as the 'Tricolor'
The Ulster Banner is still used to represent Northern Ireland in international sporting events
The Union Flag also known as the Union Jack is the official flag of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
The Island of Ireland is made up of two completely separate countries with a very troubled past, each country has its own flags
Northern Ireland has an official flag but this is not flown by all its citizens, the flying of a particular flag in Northern Ireland is controversial and often represents the political and religious views of the individual