Section of Jacob’s Easter Rising flag returned to Ireland

Tricolour was taken down by British soldier John Le Provost during heavy fighting

The largest known piece of the tricolour that hung over Jacob's factory during the 1916 Rising was gifted to Glasnevin Cemetery on Sunday.

After making their way to the garrison from Liberty Hall, the detachment of rebels led by Thomas McDonagh realised they had forgotten a flag, and he commanded three soldiers, known to be Thomas Meldon, George Ward and Derry Connell (believed to be a nickname) to find or make one.

The resultant flag was later brought down by British infantry from the Jersey Pals Battalion, who cut it into several parts for keepsakes after being ordered to help quell the insurrection while on training duties in Ireland.

Two smaller pieces were previously known of, one of which resides in the National Museum while the other ended up with a Church of Scotland minister before later being sold at a private auction.


The third and most substantial piece of the flag was rediscovered only in the recent past by Jersey native David Blake, whose grandfather John Le Provost helped to take it down.

Relevance and passion

As Thomas Meldon and George Ward were buried in Glasnevin Cemetery following their deaths, Mr Blake considered it an ideal institution to take possession of the prized artefact 100 years later.

"I think it's appropriate that it should be here. It's been in a drawer for 40 years plus, it's got more relevance and passion for other people to see it and not forget," Mr Blake said at an official handing-over ceremony attended by the Jersey government's chief minister Ian Gorst.

Although aware of his grandfather’s participation in the First World War, Mr Blake found out about his role in the Irish rebellion only shortly before his death.

“As he said to me he found it very difficult that the very man stood beside him fighting against the Germans, he was fighting against that fellow man’s countrymen,” he said.

‘In the thick of the fighting’

The flag segment was ultimately produced by his grandmother upon hearing of a school project about the Easter Rising being undertaken by Mr Blake’s daughter.

Its provenance is confirmed by a letter from Mr Le Provost, aged just 16 at the time, in which he spoke of having a "very hard time" in Dublin, although he went on to say he was "in the thick of the fighting and I did not get a scratch".

The letter contains a vivid description of the fighting that went on around Jacob’s factory, with Mr Le Provost giving an account of a bullet which passed between his arm and ribs while he stood on the street.

The flag segment will now go on display in the 1916 exhibit at the cemetery's museum, and Glasnevin Trust chairman John Green described it as "significant".

“This enables us to tell the story of 1916 with another way into it for people to discover how complicated this period in our history is,” he said.