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Photocall Ireland
Flying High

What is the protocol for handling an Irish flag?

It’s a symbol of who we are, but how should we handle it?

THE IRISH FLAG is 95 years old this year. Officially, that is.

The flag was first adopted in 1919, having been gifted to Young Irelanders leader Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848 by a group of French women. Its constitutional status was enshrined in 1937.

Despite its storied place in Irish culture, there are very few flown from homes and not all state buildings are required to fly it.

But if you were to fly one, what would the correct way to do it be?


Ok, first things first. The flag is green, white and orange. Yellow or gold is occasionally used, but guidelines from the Department of the Taoiseach say that this ‘destroys the intended symbolism’.

The exact Pantone system colours are: PMS 347, White and PMS 151. The flag should be divided into three rectangular sections of equal size and should be twice as long as it is high.



When displaying the flag, no flag should fly higher than the National Flag and it should be placed on the right of any formation, that is to the observers left.

When being flown with the EU flag, the EU flag should go immediately bedside the Irish flag.

Things not to do

imageFunny, but a no-no

The main things to remember when handling a flag are: don’t write on it and don’t let it hit the ground.

Says the guidelines:

“The National Flag should never be defaced by placing slogans, logos, lettering or pictures of any kind on it, for example at sporting events.

“The National Flag should not be draped on cars, trains, boats or other modes of transport; it should not be carried flat, but should always be carried aloft and free, except when used to drape a coffin; on such an occasion, the green should be at the head of the coffin.

“Care should be taken at all times to ensure that the National Flag does not touch the ground, trail in water or become entangled in trees or other obstacles.”

Who flies the flag?

Nobody is required to fly the flag, says the Department of the Taoiseach’s protocol department.

“There is no requirement on any building to fly the National Flag, but where one is usually flown, it is expected that they would observe the guidelines. The flying or non flying and treatment of the National Flag is a matter for each organisation.”

It is, however normal practice to fly the flag from military posts and important state buildings. All state buildings that have a flagpole fly the flag on important national days such as St Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday and the National Day of Commemoration.

All pics: Photocall Ireland.

Read: Timeline: How the flags drama unfolded in Northern Ireland

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