Shop Creative Cockades The Colors of Ireland Friday is St. Patrick's Day. That means we'll be seeing a lot of green that day! After all, green is Ir

          Web Version   Forward   Unsubscribe  

Kepi from the 35th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment known as the "1st Irish"

The Colors of Ireland

Friday is St. Patrick's Day. That means we'll be seeing a lot of green that day! After all, green is Ireland's national color, right?


The only national color Ireland has ever had (and it doesn't have one currently) was not green. So why is the Irish flag orange and green? Where did the orange and green colors come from?

And what was the national color anyway? Read on...

James II 1633-1701

James II

The Stuart King

If you know your British history, or if you've read my blog, you know that England's last Stuart king was James II. James came to the throne in 1685 and had a son - and heir to the throne - in 1688. That's when the English went ballistic.

You see, King James was Catholic and England feared the despotic Catholic rule. This was a time of heavy-handed state religion and the people worried that James and his son would outlaw the Protestant faith (which was only about 170 years old at this point). So they asked James' Protestant nephew to come take the throne instead.

william of orange

William of Orange

The Prince of Orange

Prince William of Orange gained the throne of England and Ireland in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This was in addition to being ruler of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and the Dutch Republic. He was a busy guy!

William brought his orange Dutch cockades with him when he came over.

But James and his Catholic supporters did not give up. In fact, there would be war between the Stuarts and the British monarchs for the next fifty years. But the warring came to a temporary end at Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Oddly enough, though the Catholic Irish were often associated with green, in this battle it was William's forces who wore green in their hats during the battle. The Stuart forces wore white cockades (note again my blog for more of that story).

William won the battle and kept the throne. But since then, Protestant Irish have worn orange and Catholic Irish green.

And, to use an old expression, never the twain met... until 1916.

Plunkett badge

Geraldine Plunkett's Irish badge

Orange and Green

During Easter Week of 1916, the revolution began which would ultimately lead to Ireland's secession from Great Britian. A symbol of this rising was the wearing of orange and green - together.

This pretty little badge was worn by Geraldine Plunkett Dillon after her brother was executed for his role in the Easter Rebellion. Geraldine's parents and two other brothers were imprisoned at the time she bravely wore this ribbon. She tells a story of being stopped in the street:

"A big policeman in Dame Street stopped me and said the tricolour would get me into trouble. I said, 'I have one brother shot and two brothers sentenced to death and my father and mother in jail'. He said 'You’re Plunkett, you can wear it'."

Of course, we know the end of the story - that Ireland eventually gained her independence and adopted a flag of green and orange. The white stripe in the middle symbolizes the peace between the two religious factions.

But that still leaves our original question unanswered: What was Ireland's national color?

Arms of Ireland

The Kingdom Color

The original color of Ireland goes back to religion once again. This time, it's the religion of Henry VIII, the man infamous for deposing his wives. In the fracas over his marriage to Anne of Boleyn, Henry withdrew from the Catholic church and created his own state religion. As part of that withdrawal, he brought Ireland with him and created the Kingdom of Ireland. The new coat of arms for Ireland? A gold harp on a blue field.

order st patrick

Roughly 250 years later, when a color was needed for the ribbon and robe of the newly-created, prestigious Order of St. Patrick, King George III chose Ireland's traditional color: Blue.

And in 1937 when the Irish President's standard was chosen it was again the Irish blue with a golden harp. If you're looking for a national color for Ireland, blue seems to have as good a claim as any!

Want to Wear Irish Colors?

If you're Irish and want a cockade to show your heritage, check out my Irish Brigade cockade! I can also create Irish cockades with the beautiful "harp of Erin" buttons that were common during the Civil War.

And of course, I'm always happy to provide National Pride cockades for any nation! Check out the ones already listed in my shop or custom order one just for you!


March 2015 150th Reenactments

Back issues of the Cockade Column are available on my Pinterest site. Enjoy reading the ones you missed! If you are reading this online and want it to come right to your inbox, you can sign up on this form.

Thanks for reading... see you next week!

~Heather Sheen
Owner, Creative Cockades

Every Cockade Has A Story To Tell!

Click on the icons below to connect with me via your favorite social media!

blogger facebook instagram linkedin pinterest