Waterford Celebrates Thomas Francis Meagher and the 175th Year of Our National Flag

This March (3rd to 5th) Waterford will celebrate the 175th year of our national flag. Over three exciting days, Waterford will honour the 175th anniversary of the Irish Tricolour flag and its rich history.

The Thomas Francis Meagher 175th Tricolour Celebration takes place on March 3 to 5. The weekend will be a national commemoration of 175th anniversary of the first raising of the Irish Tricolour by Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848 at the Wolf Tone Confederate Club, 33 The Mall in Waterford.

Thomas Francis Meagher was instrumental in what is now our national flag. See here to read more about this and the extraordinary life of this Waterford legend. And see below for some more facts about the tricolour and its inception.

The weekends’ programme of events will feature cultural, historic, military, social events and public lectures.

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Starting on Friday, March 3, there will be a Thomas Francis Meagher Walking Tour starting at 6 p.m. The tour starts at the Granville Hotel, which was where Meagher was born and will bring you to various sites associated with his life and career. It will finish at Sabai restaurant, where Meagher lived and was arrested in July 1848.

On Saturday, March 4, there will be a free public event with a series of talks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Esteemed speakers and guests will gather in the Waterford Medieval Museum to talk about the importance of the Tricolour and its impact on the people of Ireland.

In the evening there will be a black-tie gala dinner in the Granville Hotel. The Thomas Francis Meagher Gala Dinner will start at 7.30 p.m. Tickets for this event can be bought by calling the Granville Hotel on 051-305555; website: https://www.granvillehotel.ie/.     

Then on Sunday, March 5, there will be a Military Parade, Wreath-Laying and Flag Raising Ceremony, starting at 11.40 a.m. This special event will feature:

  • A display of Irish military vehicles and a naval ship
  • A parade of veterans led by a pipe band
  • A wreath-laying ceremony
  • A Thomas Francis Meagher oration
  • A Tricolour flag-raising celebration

The parade will start at the Granville Hotel and travel down the Quay to the Mall where the ceremonial flag raising will take place outside Waterford Crystal at 12.30 p.m.

This weekend is a brilliant opportunity to commemorate the Tricolour and its role in Irish history.

The Patron for the event is Daniel Mulhall. Daniel is a retired Irish diplomat, a former Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Malaysia. He is a Freeperson of Waterford and Freeperson of the City of London. He is also an Honorary President of the Yeats Society an author and globally distinguished Professor in Irish studies. Daniel is currently a Parnell Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge for 2022-23.

Irish Tricolour Facts

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The flag of Ireland (bratach na hÉireann), is a vertical tricolour of green (at the hoist), white and orange.

Presented as a gift in 1848 to Thomas Francis Meagher from a small group of French women sympathetic to Irish nationalism, it was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union between Roman Catholics (symbolised by the green colour) and Protestants (symbolised by the orange colour).

The significance of the colours outlined by Meagher was, “The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”

It was first flown in 1848 (175 years ago this year) at the Wolf Tone Confederate Club, 33 The Mall in Waterford.

But it wasn’t until the Easter Rising of 1916, when it was raised above Dublin’s GPO by Gearóid O’Sullivan, that the tricolour came to be regarded as the national flag. The flag was adopted by the Irish Republic during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). The flag’s use was continued by the Irish Free State (1922–1937) and it was later given constitutional status under the 1937 Constitution of Ireland.

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