The appearance of the Tricolour before 1916 1915| Origins of the Flag

The visibility of the tricolour in Irish society was very low between 1848 and 1916. However, its associations with Meagher were not forgotten by some republicans. In 1915, a group from Waterford carried the tricolour through the streets of Dublin. Two witnesses recall their impressions of the event.

A Waterford Photo with the Tricolour 1920 NLI
Political/cultural grouping at the corner of Barrack Street and Green Street, Waterford in July 1920. NLI

… a youth group from the Thomas Francis Meagher branch of Na Fianna in Waterford brought a large silk tricolour flag to the Dublin home of Countess Markievicz at Surrey House, Leinster Road in 1915. The “Dublin boys wanted to retain it”, but the Waterford boys considered that it was Meagher’s flag, so they held on to it.

(James Nolan, Bureau of Military History, witness statement 1369, p7)

I believe this was the first time the Tricolour was carried as a standard at the head of any unit in Dublin's streets. In fact, I have a recollection that the Countess herself (she was at Kingsbridge with the pipers' band) insisted on carrying it herself for part of the march.

(Patrick Hearne, Bureau of Military History, witness statement 1742, p6)

In Your Opinion

1) What evidence is there is suggest that the Waterford branch held Thomas Francis Meagher in high esteem?

2) Why would they carry a tricolour made of silk?

3) Why would the “Dublin boys” ask to keep the flag?

4) Countess Markievicz carried the flag for part of the march. Can you suggest a reason why she would do this?

Related Stories