Irish Tricolour marks 170th anniversary

It was flown by Thomas Francis Meagher on March 7th 1848 in Waterford

Irish Tricolour marks 170th anniversary

The Irish national flag, the Irish Tricolour, flies over Áras an Uachtaráin in 2011 | Image: Mark Stedman/

Wednesday marks 170 years since the Irish Tricolour was first flown publicly.

It was flown by Irish patriot Thomas Francis Meagher on March 7th 1848 from 33 The Mall in Waterford at the Wolf Tone Club.

Meagher, a US army general and Governor of Montana spent much if his life outside Ireland - though he made a significant contribution to both Irish nationalism and to the preservation of the United States.

He also contributed heavily to the assimilation of the Irish into American society.

Thomas Francis Meagher | Image:

In presenting the Tricolour to the Irish people on his return from Paris, he outlined this philosophy: "The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the orange and the green, and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish protestant and the Irish catholic may be clasped, in generous and heroic brotherhood."

Meagher was put on trial for high treason for his part in the rising of 1848.

Sentenced to death, he addressed the court saying: "Your honour if you do not sentence me to death I will try again".

The death sentence was commuted to transportation for life to Australia.

Writing his last letter from Richmond Prison in 1849, Meagher described the Ireland of the future.

"Ever was there a country so utterly downcast, so depressed, so pitiful, so spiritless.

"Yet I do not, could not, despair of her regeneration. Nations do not die in a day. Their lives are reckoned by generations, and they encompass centuries.

"Their vitality is inextinguishable."

File photo

The Tricolour was more or less forgotten, until it was retrieved in the years leading up to and during the 1916 Rising.

Meagher died aged 43.