The left third of Ireland’s flag is green, a color long associated with Irish republicanism. This dates back to the 1790s, when the Society of United Irishmen launched a rebellion to end British rule and found an independent Irish republic. Their flag was green, the color that came to represent the side fighting for Irish independence.
On the opposite half of the flag is the color orange. Orange is an important color in Ireland—it’s chosen by Protestant British unionists.
In the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, the Protestant King William III defeated an army comprising primarily Irish Catholics led by the Catholic King James II. William’s title came from the Principality of the Orange, and as such, he was known as William of Orange. This led the the Northern Ireland–based Orange Order, a protestant supremacy group, to choose orange as their primary color when they were founded in 1795. With time, orange came to represent Protestant British unionists.
Between these two opposing forces, represented by orange and green, lies the color white. White is the color of peace and purity. When Ireland’s flag was created, white was chosen as the central color to represent a lasting truce and hope for peace between the two sides. It represents the ideal that every person has a part in Ireland, regardless of political stance, religion, or ethnicity.
Ireland’s flag may be simple, with only three equal sections of green, white, and orange, but once you understand what they symbolize you realize the flag stands for something important.
So, did the flag unite Ireland?
The flag was adopted by the Irish free state, the independent southern half of the island.
Unfortunately, it became seen as a symbol of division in the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland, who continue to use the British Union flag. Despite its original intent, it remains a source of division in the nation today.
GreenThe left third of Ireland’s flag is green, a color long associated with Irish republicanism. This dates back to the 1790s, when the Society of United Irishmen launched a rebellion to end British rule and found an independent Irish republic. Th