The National Flag

The National Flag (An Bhratach Náisiúnta) or tri-colour (green, white and orange) symbolises the inclusion and hoped-for union of the people from the different traditions on this island.

Though it can be traced to the mid-19th century, following the 1916 Easter Rising, it captured the national imagination as the banner of the new revolutionary Ireland, the tri-colour came to be acclaimed throughout the country as the National Flag. It continued to be used by the Free State from 1922, when in1937, it was given recognition in Constitution. Today, the Taoiseach’s Department has general responsibility for the National Flag and the protocols for its use.

The National Flag is rectangular in shape, the width being twice its depth. The three colours-green, white and orange-are of equal size, and vertically disposed.

No flag or pennant should be flown above the National Flag. 

Carriage and Display of the National Flag

When the National Flag is carried with another flag, or flags, it should be carried in a place of honour (on the marching right-or on the left of an observer to-wards whom the flags are approaching). While being carried the National Flag should not be dipped by way of salute or compliment except to the dead during memorial ceremonies. The flag should not be draped over a platform or defaced by placing slogans, logos, lettering or pictures of any kind on it, for example at sporting events.

The National Flag should not be draped on cars, trains, boats or other modes of transport and it should not be carried flat, but should be always carried aloft and free, except when used to drape a coffin, on such an occasion, the green must be at the head of the coffin.

When the National Flag is displayed in either a horizontal or vertical position the green should be on the right (an observer’s left) in the horizontal position and in the vertical position green must be uppermost colour.

In raising or lowering, the National Flag should not be allowed to touch the ground. When being hoisted to half-mast, the Flag should first be brought to the peak of the flagstaff and then lowered to the half-mast position. It should again be brought to the peak of the staff before it is finally lowered. A flag is at half-mast in any position below the top of the staff but never below the middle point of the staff. As a general guide, the half-mast position may be taken as that where the top of the flag is the depth of the flag.

Ceremonial and Festive Occasions

On ceremonial occasions when the National Flag is being hoisted, or lowered, or when it is passing by in a parade, all present (military) should face it, stand to attention and salute. Persons in uniform who normally salute with the hand should give the hand salute. Persons in civilian attire should salute by standing to attention. The salute to the Flag when it is being borne past in a parade is rendered when the Flag is six paces away and the salute is held until the Flag has passed by.

When the National Anthem is played in the presence of the National Flag, all present should face the National Flag, stand to attention and salute it, remaining at the salute until the last note of the Anthem. If the flag is used as a decoration, it should always be treated with due respect. It may be used as a discreet lapel button or rosette or as a centerpiece for a table.

Where multiple National Flags are flown on festive occasions these should be of uniform dimensions. When the National Flag has become worn or frayed it is no longer fit for display, and should not be used in any manner implying disrespect.

State and Military Funerals

The National Flag

At a State/Military funeral the coffin shall be draped with a ceremonial flag (9 ft by 4.5 ft with loops). It shall be placed length ways and evenly on the coffin with the green portion to the head. When the coffin has been draped with the National Flag the head-dress and sword will be placed on the coffin:

  1. The head-dress will be placed on the head of the coffin, over the green portion of the flag, with the peak of the cap or the badge of the beret pointing towards the head.
  2. The sword in the case of officers, will be placed centrally on the coffin with the hilt towards the foot of the coffin
  3. The Service Dress Belt, in case of other ranks personnel, will be placed lengthways centrally on the coffin with the clasp closed.

Where a National Colour and a Regimental Colour are carried at a funeral the colours shall be draped with two streamers of black crepe seven feet long and twelve inches wide attached to the top of the staff immediately below the Tau.

Occasions when the National Flag is Flown

The National Flag should be displayed in the open only between sunrise and sunset, except on the occasion of public meetings, processions, or funerals, when it may be displayed for the duration of such functions.

Military Hoisting and Lowering of National Flag

For military purposes, sunrise and sunset are deemed to be:

March to October  08:00 Hours
November to February 08:30 Hours
January and December 15:30 Hours
February and November 16:30 Hours
March and October 17:30 Hours
April 18:00 Hours
May and September 19:00 Hours
June to August 20:00 Hours


Read more about Defence Forces History

The Badge Design

The Badge design (common to all Corps and Services and all orders of dress) is derived from the badge of the Irish Volunteers and was designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill, Chairman of the National Executive of the Irish Volunteers. This badge was originally adopted by the Irish Volunteers in October 1914. [Read more]