Saint Patrick's Flag


Saint Patrick's Flag

Saint Patrick's Flag ( _ga. Cros Phádraig) is a flag of Ireland that features in the flag of the United Kingdom. In heraldic language, it may be blazoned "Argent, a saltire gules", meaning that it is drawn as a red saltire (a "crux decussata" or X-shaped cross) on a white field. It is said to represent Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is also known as the Saint Patrick's Cross or Saint Patrick's Saltire.

The origin of the flag is disputed, with two opposing theories. Some argue that the flag is an ancient flag associated with Ireland. Evidence for this is that a red saltire appears on the seal of Trinity College Dublin dating from 1612, as well as the arms of the cities of Cork and Enniskillen. Dutch guides from the turn of the eighteenth century guides also describe the Irish flag as a red saltire.

Opposing this view is that the flag is relatively new, dating from 1783, with the foundation of the Order of Saint Patrick, when a red saltire was chosen for the badge of the order. Proponents of this view point out that the choice of a saltire as a symbol of Ireland was to the bewilderment of contemporary Irish commentators. They also point out that evidence for the use of the symbol as a flag of Ireland prior to then are scarce or oblique.

In any event, with the 1800 Act of Union that merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, a red saltire was incorporated into the Flag of the United Kingdom as representing Ireland. Throughout the 19th century until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, it served as an unofficial Irish flag. Today, it is of growing significance to unionists in Northern Ireland, to whom it represents a neutral flag of Ireland, in contrast to the Irish tricolour, which they object to as a nationalist symbol.

Origins

The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, the British order of chivalry associated with Ireland, was created in 1783 to mark the grant of substantial autonomy to Ireland, as a means of rewarding (or obtaining) political support in the Irish Parliament.cite web |url=http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page4880.asp |title=Monarchy Today: Queen and Public: Honours: Order of St Patrick |accessdate=2006-12-03 |work=Official website of the British Monarchy ] In creating the order, a badge for those accepted into it was also created. This is the official description of the badge that the lord lieutenant, Lord Temple, forwarded to his superiors in London in January 1783:

The origin of the cross used in the badge is unclear and was condemned by contemporary Irish opinion. A press report published in February 1783 complained that "the breasts of Irishmen were to be decorated by the bloody Cross of St Andrew, and not that of the tutelar Saint of their natural isle". [Vincent Morley, 30 May - 1 June 1999, [http://www.doyle.com.au/st_pats_flag.htm History of the St Patrick's Cross] ] Another article claimed that "the Cross of St Andrew the Scotch saint is to honour the Irish order of St Patrick, by being inserted within the star of the order" and described this as "a manifest insult to common sense and to national propriety." [Vincent Morley, 30 May - 1 June 1999, [http://www.doyle.com.au/st_pats_flag.htm History of the St Patrick's Cross] ] The premier Irish peer in the new Order was the 2nd Duke of Leinster whose family arms were a red saltire.

Despite this, the red saltire was incorporated into the Union Flag in 1801 following the union of Great Britain and Ireland, representing Ireland within the Union alongside the St George's Cross for England and Saint Andrew's Flag for Scotland. The use of the cross for this purpose is often suspected to have been based on a desire to create a new Union Flag that complemented the already existent one, rather than as a genuine symbol of Ireland. [O'Shea, M.J., 1986, James Joyce and Heraldry, SUNY Press, p.169: "Saint Patrick Cross. Argent, a saltire gules. A cross of obscure origin; it has been suggested (cynically, and probably correctly) that when a cross was needed to complement those of Sts. George and Andrew in the Union Jack, St. Patrick's Cross came into being on the spot. Hayes-McCoy gives this subject its most comprehensive treatment to date (36-41), and suggests that the device was simply appropriated from the arms of the dukes of Leinster, which are identical to the blazon above. Its dubious origins notwithstanding, the red saltire was used on the flag of the Irish Volunteers from Down in 1916 (Heyes-McCoy 200)."] Earlier union flags, such as the Commonwealth Flag (England and Ireland) or the Protectorate Jack (England, Ireland and Scotland), represented Ireland with its coat of arms of Ireland.

"Saint Patrick's Cross" is also a misnomer, as Saint Patrick was not a martyr, unlike Saints George and Andrew. St. Patrick's Cross has nothing to do with any tradition about the Saint. [Tim Healey, 1977, The Symbolism of the Cross in Sacred and Secular Art, Leonardo, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Autumn, 1977)] It may originate from the arms of the FitzGerald dynasty, an Old English family long resident in Ireland, however, contemporary sources provide nothing to support this. Another theory is that the symbol is an old but uncommon symbol of Ireland. [Flags of the World: [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ie-stpat.html Ireland: St Patrick's Cross] ] Support for this include a various sources showing saltires in use earlier that 1783 in Ireland (e.g. an Irish coin from the 1480s or a map of the 1601 battle of Kinsale showing combined Irish-Spanish forces under a red saltire). However, these examples can be explained as either the St. Andrew's Cross, the Cross of Burgundy, or similar. A third theory is that it was a common custom, from at least the early 17th century, to wear a cross made of paper or ribbon on St Patrick's Day and that the Saint Patrick's Cross in the regalia of the Order may have been inspired by these popular badges. However, surviving examples of such badges come in many colours and they were invariably worn upright rather than as saltires. [Flags of the World: [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ie-stpat.html Ireland: St Patrick's Cross] ]

The motto of the order "Quis separabit?", or Latin for "Who will separate us?" (today the motto of Northern Ireland) was borrowed from the Order of the Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, but was also appropriate politically in expressing a desire for unity. The Brothers', for their part, recorded a cross pattée as Saint Patrick's Cross and used one on their badge. An open letter to Lord Temple, to whom the design of the Order of St. Patrick's badges were entrusted, supports this view, explaining why the saltire was rejected by the Irish public: [ [http://home.connect.ie/morley/cros_e.htm St. Patrick's Cross] ]

The cross pattée was used on 15th century Irish coins and is today used as a symbol by the Church of Ireland. It is also uniquely used by Irish Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Church of Ireland), being pressed onto their foreheads during Ash Wednesday services.dubious

Modern use

[
Police Service of Northern Ireland badge.] -->

Today, Saint Patrick's flag is often seen during Saint Patrick's Day parades in Northern Ireland. This is often in contrast to the Irish tricolour, the flag of the Republic of Ireland, which - although seen by nationalists as a flag of the entire island of Ireland - is rejected by unionists. It is one of a few flags, probably second only to the Four Provinces Flag,dubious that are considered relatively neutral in terms of the symbolism of Irelanddubious and is used by some all-island bodies, as well as being the only national flag (of the UK or Ireland) authorised to be flown on church grounds by the Church of Ireland. [Flags of the World: [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ie-stpat.html#cofi St. Patrick's Flag as flag of Church of Ireland] : "The General Synod of the Church of Ireland recognises that from time to time confusion and controversy have attended the flying of flags on church buildings or within the grounds of church buildings. This Synod therefore resolves that the only flags specifically authorised to be flown on church buildings or within the church grounds of the Church of Ireland are the cross of St Patrick or, alternatively, the flag of the Anglican Communion bearing the emblem of the Compassrose. Such flags are authorised to be flown only on Holy Days and during the Octaves of Christmas, Easter, the Ascension of Our Lord and Pentecost, and on any other such day as may be recognised locally as the Dedication Day of the particular church building. Any other flag flown at any other time is not specifically authorised by this Church...."] For similar motives, it is the basis of the police badge of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland and the flag of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

The St. Patrick's flag was also the emblem and flag of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, although it has been replaced by the reconstituted National University of Ireland in Maynooth since 1997.

Variants

In the 1930s, a variation of the flag with a St. Patrick's Blue background was adopted as the badge and flag of the Blueshirts. This militant group incorporated right-wing, conservative and some former-unionist elements in opposition to the then left-wing republican Fianna Fáil party.

Various flags representing Northern Ireland also incorporate the saltire. One is used by Ulster separatists who wish to see Northern Ireland leave the United Kingdom and become an independent state, not joining together with the Republic of Ireland. The flag is made up of St Andrew's cross overlaid with St Patrick's Cross and the red hand and star of Northern Ireland, with the star coloured yellow (instead of white as in the Ulster Banner) based on the colours of the flag of the Irish province of Ulster. Another, a proposed new flag for Northern Ireland, is a hybrid between the Saint Patrick's flag and the Ulster Banner. It adds the Red Hand of Ulster and the six-pointed star to the St. Patrick's Flag, but does not add the crown and dispenses with St. Georges' Cross, as found on the Ulster Banner.

ee also

* List of Irish flags
* Northern Ireland flags issue
* Cross of Burgundy flag
* St. Patrick's Blue
* Flag of Valdivia
* Flag of Alabama
* Flag of Florida

References

External links

* [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ie-stpat.html Ireland: St Patrick's Flag] from Flags of the World


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Saint George's flag — Saint Saint (s[=a]nt), n. [F., fr. L. sanctus sacred, properly p. p. of sancire to render sacred by a religious act, to appoint as sacred; akin to sacer sacred. Cf. {Sacred}, {Sanctity}, {Sanctum}, {Sanctus}.] 1. A person sanctified; a holy or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saint Patrick's Saltire — Saint Patrick s Cross redirects here. For other uses, see List of Saint Patrick s Crosses. Saint Patrick s Flag: a red saltire on a field of white Saint Patrick s Cross (or Saint Patrick s Saltire) is a red saltire (X shaped cross) on a white… …   Wikipedia

  • Saint-Patrick (Ile de Man) — Saint Patrick (Île de Man) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saint Patrick. 54° 13′ 33″ N 4° 42′ 06″ W …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Saint-Patrick (Île de Man) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saint Patrick. 54° 13′ 33″ N 4° 42′ 06″ W …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Saint-patrick (île de man) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saint Patrick. 54° 13′ 33″ N 4° 42′ 06″ W …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Saint Patrick's cross — Saint Saint (s[=a]nt), n. [F., fr. L. sanctus sacred, properly p. p. of sancire to render sacred by a religious act, to appoint as sacred; akin to sacer sacred. Cf. {Sacred}, {Sanctity}, {Sanctum}, {Sanctus}.] 1. A person sanctified; a holy or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saint Patrick's Day — Saint Saint (s[=a]nt), n. [F., fr. L. sanctus sacred, properly p. p. of sancire to render sacred by a religious act, to appoint as sacred; akin to sacer sacred. Cf. {Sacred}, {Sanctity}, {Sanctum}, {Sanctus}.] 1. A person sanctified; a holy or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saint Patrick's Battalion — Infobox Military Unit unit name= Saint Patrick s Battalion caption=Reproduction of the Batallón de San Patricio s flag, as described by John Riley dates= 1846 1848 country=Mexico allegiance= branch=Mexican Army type= Artillery/Infantry size= est …   Wikipedia

  • Saint Patrick's Day — Infobox Holiday holiday name = Saint Patrick s Day type = Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland and Eastern Orthodox longtype = National, Ethnic, Christian, Festive | caption = The Chicago River is dyed green each year for the St. Patrick s Day… …   Wikipedia

  • Saint Patrick — For other uses, see Saint Patrick (disambiguation). Saint Patrick Honored in Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodoxy Anglican Communion Lutheran Church Major …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.