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Noel Browne
Thomas Francis Meagher

Taoiseach commemorates first flying of the tricolour 175 years ago at ceremony in Waterford

The Irish national flag was first flown at the Wolfe Tone Club in Waterford City by Thomas Francis Meagher.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Mar 2023

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has told a ceremony in Waterford today to commemorate the first flying of the tricolour 175 years ago that the flag continues to inspire peace and hope for a shared island.

Varadkar told the crowd at Waterford’s Mall:

“It is a great honour to mark the first raising of the Tricolour in Waterford 175 years ago this week. My congratulations to the Thomas Francis Meagher Tricolour Celebration Committee for organising this ceremony.

“Thomas Francis Meagher was a major figure in Ireland’s struggle for independence. His portrait hangs in the Taoiseach’s office.  The act of raising the green, white and orange in Waterford’s Mall symbolised peace between communities and expressed the hope of a shared future on a shared island together, a message that continues to inspire today.”

The Irish national flag was first flown at the Wolfe Tone Club in Waterford City by Irish nationalist leader Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848.

The Tricolour was presented as a gift to Meagher from a small group of French
women sympathetic to the Irish cause.

The flag flew for eight days before being removed by authorities.

Chair of the event’s organising committee Ann Cusack said she was “honoured and delighted that An Taoiseach can join us here to commemorate the first ever raising of the tricolour 175 years ago”.

She noted that the tricolour “is not just a symbol of the state, but a symbol of peace and understanding which is the message that we are proud to promote”.

The green of the flag symbolises Catholics, the orange represents Protestants, while the white in the middle represents peace between the two.

The ceremony also included a wreath laying ceremony and military parade.

Also honouring the occasion were members of the 69th Infantry Regiment (Fighting Irish) New York, as well Deputy Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces Major General Adrian O’Murchu.

The Irish Naval Ship L.E. James Joyce docked in Waterford Harbour and the Irish Military Vehicle Group (IMVG) held a display of vehicles and weapons.

The Civil Defence also have vehicles and equipment on show.

The Taoiseach was joined by members of the Diplomatic Corps including Ambassadors to Ireland from Britain, United States, France, Canada, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine.

Retired Irish diplomat Dan Mulhall is Patron of the Thomas Francis Meagher Tricolour movement.

He said: “It is a great honour to have been asked to be the Patron for the commemoration of Thomas Francis Meagher and the flying of our Tricolour for the first time in Waterford in 1848.

“I look forward to celebrating our national flag and the man who inspired it in the place where the flag was first flown.”

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