Respecting the Tricolour 1923 | Adoption of the Tricolour

Cover of an tÓglach Magazine
Cover of an tÓglach Magazine this issue addressed respect for the Tricolour

The tricolour was adopted as the flag of the Irish Free State. This editorial from An tÓglach, the magazine of the Irish army in 1923, describes how difficult it was to introduce high levels of respect for the flag in the army.

“An tÓglach” … wants the flag to receive more care and attention from those who have the honour of flying it over camps, barracks and outposts. Above all, it wants the flag to receive the full meed of respect that is its due.

The Flag is the symbol of the Nation. It floats high above politics and internecine strife. It is the first duty of every soldier of Ireland to keep it unsullied by any act or word which reflects upon the credit of the people whom it represents – to make it honoured and respected, not only within the Fours Seas of Eirinn, but wherever it is flown the wide world over.

It is also essential that the Flag as a flag should be worthy of its high significance. It should always be bright, unblemished, whole, never a thing of rags and tatters bleached by sun and rain to the semblance of a dishcloth. In the past the eyes of Irishmen were too affronted with such a spectacle, marking a building in the occupation of the troops. The impression conveyed to the “stranger within the gate” by such a sight can be better imagined than described …

Sailors … would describe one of their own fraternity who did not properly masthead a flag as a “dirty sailor”. They would be even more contemptuous of a soldier who committed the same offence, though they might, possibly regard is (sic) as only what was to be expected from a landsman.

Let the Army see to it, therefore, that in future the flag is flowed (sic) in a manner that is worthy of it … Let us keep it literally bright and unspotted, as well as metaphorically. Think of what it represents, of all the gallant Irishmen who have fought and died beneath its folds, of the millions of our race who will view it with pride in the years to come – and see that it is worthy of its symbolism.

An tÓglach, 20 October 1923, p2



In Your Opinion

  1. The writer wants the tricolour to be treated with more respect. How does he argue for the importance of the flag?
  2. In some places the tricolour does not look well, and the writer suggests that a high standard should be applied to all flags on display. What changes does he suggest?
  3. What changes do he suggest? How did the sailors of the new Irish navy differ in their attitude to the tricolour, according to the writer?
  4. The writer outlines in the last section his view on the significance of the tricolour. What is the most important advice he gives to his readers, in your view?




Supporting Material

Today, the regulations of the defence forces on the use of the national flag are every clear: “When the National Flag has become worn or frayed it is no longer fit for display, and should not be used in any manner implying disrespect.


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