Rising from the ashes: ‘Irish Republic’ flag on display

Banner symbolising events of Easter 1916 survived inferno at GPO almost intact

Brenda Malone from the National Museum of Ireland discusses the history around Ireland's most famous flag, which is now on display to the public. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

The best-known flag of the Easter Rising is not the Tricolour that flew over the GPO in 1916 but the Irish Republic one on display at the Proclaiming a Republic exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

It is something of an achievement that the Irish Republic flag still exists. It hung from the flagpole closest to the Prince’s Street side of the GPO and was shot at many times. It bears the scorch marks of the inferno inside.

The flagstaff was hit on the last day of the Rising and the flag was found lying on the roof of the GPO.

Restoration

It was made from wool and house paint and bore the letters “Irish Republic” in white and orange on a green background.

A man named Theobald Wolfe Tone Fitzgerald painted it in the home of Constance Markievicz in Rathmines.

The flag was taken down from the roof on the day after the Rising and was regarded by the troops as quite a trophy.

A famous photograph of the time shows troops from the Royal Irish Regiment posing with it at the Parnell Monument.

It was taken to Britain, but given to the State by the Imperial War Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966.

It needed serious restoration before being exhibited in the National Museum of Ireland’s Proclaiming the Republic exhibition.

The house paint had to be consolidated and preserved to make it safe for display as the prime exhibit.

Also included in the exhibition is the Starry Plough flag, the symbol of the Irish Citizen Army, which flew opposite the GPO at the Imperial Hotel.

The National Museum of Ireland has gathered, for the first time, all the remaining flags that flew over the rebel garrisons during Easter Week 1916, with the exception of the flag which flew over the College of Surgeons. That is in private hands.

Tricolour

What remains of the Tricolour that flew over the GPO is also on display, but it consists of only a couple of butterfly-shaped torn fragments. It was scorched in the fire and then rubble fell on it.

The exhibition includes the Red Cross flag which was placed on the back of a Guinness lorry that was used to ferry the injured people to hospital during Easter Week.

Relaxing on Grafton Street

The exhibition includes a set of photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the Rising which have never been seen in public before.

They were purchased by from a Mr C Smith in 1975 and show soldiers relaxing and lounging around after the Rising.

The first photograph shows soldiers sitting on chairs and reading newspapers at the bottom of Grafton Street on the last day of the Rising, April 29th, 1916.

Another shows soldiers posing at a makeshift barricade in armchairs taken from nearby houses.