The Irish Tricolour flag was first flown publicly by Waterford man and Irish-American Patriot Thomas Francis Meagher in his native city at the Wolf Tone Confederate Club at 33 The Mall, Waterford on 7 March 1848.
On the 15th of April he presented a fabulous version of the Tricolour made from the finest French silk to the citizens of Ireland. He said:
‘I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre 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 generous and heroic brotherhood.’ –Thomas Francis Meagher
Soon after Meagher was part of the Young Irelanders 1848 Rebellion. He was arrested and accused of high treason. On the 16th of July, just before his trial, he visited Slievenamon, Co Tipperary and gave a speech to 50,000 people. Meagher, decorated with a fabulous Tricolour Sash fulfilled his February promise and baptised the country with his new flag saying these words:
‘He [O’Connell] preached a cause that we are bound to see out. He used to say ‘I may not see what I have laboured for, I am an old man my arm is withered no epitaph of victory may mark my grave but I see a young generation with redder blood in their veins, and they will do the work. Therefore it is that I ambition to decorate these hills with the flag of my country.’ –Thomas Francis Meager
The Irish Tricolour has inspired generations of Irish people since its conception in 1848. Although the flag didn’t see the light of day again until it was raised above the GPO in 1916, so poignant was its symbolism that its message still prevailed over half a century later, as it does today. The tricolour was eventually recognised as Ireland’s national flag in 1937.
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