The Wolfe Tone Annual - Tricolour as the flag of a Republic 1957 | Adoption of the Tricolour

Cover of Wolfe Tone Annual 1932
Cover of Wolfe Tone Annual 1932

Brian O’Higgins published a republican magazine, “The Wolfe Tone Annual” between 1932 and 1962, with a break of one year during the emergency when the censor authorities refused him permission to publish the 1944 annual.

In the issue for 1957, the annual had a special article on “The Flag of Ireland”, in which he suggested that many Irish people did not share his understanding of what the flag symbolised.

Brian O’Higgins, his view of the tricolour’s “true significance”

They protest against it being left flying after sunset, about how it is flown and how it is carried; but the true significance of the term, Flag of Ireland, never seems to have entered their minds.


Some of those who protest most indignantly against the treatment given to the Flag insult it themselves every day of their lives by sneering at the spiritual and national treasures it symbolises, by ignoring or decrying the Irish language, by playing games that were brought into this country of set purpose to insult and haul down and trample its Flag in the mud of Anglicisation, by shutting their eyes to Irish history and their ears to Irish songs and music, by indulging in foreign pastimes and alien customs and by making no effort to hasten the day of Ireland’s complete freedom from the domination and influence of England. The man who in speech or letter or article attacks the right of Ireland to an independent, a separate national existence … insults the Flag and is a greater enemy than any Sasenach.


(Brian O’Higgins, “The Flag of the Republic”, The Wolfe Tone Annual 1957, pages 64-5)

In Your Opinion

  1. What is the attitude of O’Higgins towards people who complain about how the tricolour is flown?
  2. O’Higgins accuses some of the people “who protest most indignantly” of insulting the flag. What are the two most powerful arguments, in your view, that he makes to back up his accusation?
  3. What accusation does O’Higgins make against people who did not support an independent Ireland?
  4. Why, in your view, does the writer condemn some people for their attitudes towards the tricolour, forty years after the rising, and 35 years after the establishment of the Irish Free State?

The Wolfe Tone Annual 1957, cover page
The Wolfe Tone Annual 1957, cover page

The Wolfe Tone Annual 1957, cover page.

In Your Opinion

  1. Who is the individual pictured on the cover?
  2. O’Higgins includes a series of a series of dates, including 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916. Why are they mentioned on the cover, in your view?
  3. At the bottom of the left hand column is the date 1922. At the bottom of the right hand column is an incomplete year, “19 -“. Why, in your opinion, has O’Higgins not included a date here?
  4. The 1957 Wolfe Tone Annual marked its silver jubilee, or 25th year of publication. Yet the dates at the top of the cover range from 1932 to 1957, a total of 26 years. Why, in your view, was the 25th issue published 26 years after the first issue?

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