Friday, August 19, 2011

Wrap The Green Flag Round Me Boys

I did a talk a week ago in Muckross House which included 7 songs. Muckross House is situated in Killarney National Park, a few miles from Killarney town. The talk was entitled, "Songs From the Outpost, Irish Narratives of the 19th Century in Song, in the Americas." Muckross house was built in the 1840's and has extensive gardens surrounding it. Queen Victoria stayed at the house when she visited Killarney in 1861. Indeed, the place where my talk took place was her boudoir, which I certainly got a kick out of. I dedicated one of the songs to her: "Down Erin's Lovely Lee." "Down Erin's Lovely Lee" is a Fenian song, which skirts between Ireland and America, as many's another
Irish song is wont to do. Here is a version by my good friend Tim Browne. One of the songs lyrics is "The Harp Without the Crown." This flag, in my opinion, is the rightful flag of Ireland. 
It was unfurled on many's a battlefield, from the U.S. and Canada, down to Mexico, and all the ways back in Ireland.  The tri-colour flag of green, white, and orange, which we now fly, was first flown by Thomas Francis Meagher from the "Wolfe Tone Confederate Club" at No. 33, The Mall, Waterford in 1848. In Ireland he was a leading member of the Young Irelander movement. Thomas went on to lead the famous 69th New York regiment "The Fighting Irish" during the American Civil War. The Green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland, the orange, the Loyalist tradition, and the white, peace between the two groups. This placation of the orange element turned out to be a useless endeavour. The orange now has only a miniscule presence in the Republic, and the North has long been siphoned off to the U.K.  The northern portion of this island is part of the U.K., and the strong Unionist tradition there has no more interest in the south than the man on the moon.

Eoghan Rua Ó' Néill
The green flag with the harp was first unfurled by Eoghan Ruadh Ó' Néill in the Confederate War of 1642. This flag has flown in every century since, in the most varied of situations. The first official use of the tricolour as a national flag was when it was hung up over the G.P.O. in Dublin, in 1916, during the Easter Rising there. The tricolour was subsequently used during the War of Independence, and thereafter it became written in stone as the official flag of Ireland.

Fenian Invasion of Canada, Battle of Ridgeway, 1866