Flags for Schools Initiative

To commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Rising and to celebrate 100 years since the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, the Government has tasked Óglaigh na hÉireann with delivering a National Flag to every Primary School in the country.

This is a key part of the Ireland 2016 commemorative programme and will see members of Óglaigh na hÉireann, in uniform, visiting schoolchildren, teachers and parents in over 3,200 schools across the Republic.

Each school will be visited by a team, led by an Officer or senior NCO, who will formally present the National Flag to the School in a special ceremony. Our personnel will teach the schoolchildren about how the National Flag should be cared for and the protocol that surrounds this vibrant symbol of our nation.

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Gaelscoileanna and schools in Gaeltacht areas will be visited by Irish speaking personnel. The Officer or NCO will also read out the 1916 Proclamation and present a high-quality copy of the Proclamation, which has been produced from the Defence Forces Printing Press.

In addition to the National Flag and the 1916 Proclamation, the Defence Forces will also deliver a pack for each school, containing a booklet on how to care for the Flag; a poster of Amhrán na bhFiann and our National Anthem. The format for our visit to Primary Schools will be as follows:

  1. Arrival of the Defence Forces team at the school: welcome and introductory remarks.
  2. The 1916 Proclamation in context.
  3. Reading of the Proclamation, with a nominated pupil (or pupils) reading a pre-selected extract.
  4. The National Flag - Q&A for the students on our Flag.
  5. Flag Protocols how we should care for our National Flag
  6. Presentation of the Flag to an appointed person (a pupil, representative from the school or Principal).

Each ceremony will last not more than 30 minutes per school.

Óglaigh na hÉireann is proud to be leading this unprecedented initiative, which will culminate in Proclamation Day on 15th March 2016, where every school will raise the National Flag in special ceremonies - following the example of Óglaigh na hÉireann - and the 1916 Proclamation will be read.

About the 1916 Proclamation

The 1916 Proclamation is regarded as the seminal document in the Irish Revolutionary period which began in 1916 and led, ultimately, to the birth of an independent Irish State. The Seven Signatories of the Proclamation — Clarke, MacDiarmada, MacDonagh, Pearse, Ceannt, Connolly and Plunkett – were pivotal figures in the Easter Rising of 1916.

Video - Officer Reading the Proclamation

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They constituted the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic and agreed, finalised and signed the Proclamation. The Defence Forces holds these signatories in particularly high regard and their images and names can be seen across our barracks, messes and parade grounds. The seven barracks that constitute the Curragh Camp (now the Defence Forces Training Centre), for example, are named after each of the seven signatories of the Proclamation.

About our National Flag

The National Flag of Ireland, a tricolour of green, white and orange, is intended to symbolise the inclusion of and the aspiration for unity between people of different traditions on this island. In addition, our National Flag is a symbol of peace and reconciliation on this island.  From 1916 onwards, the tricolour captured the national imagination as the banner of the new revolutionary Ireland, and came to be acclaimed throughout the country as the National Flag, becoming enshrined in our Constitution of 1937.

Since Óglaigh na hÉireann took custody of military barracks and posts across Ireland in early 1922, as The National Army of the newly formed Free State, the National Flag has been raised with dignity and solemnity in each military location every single day of each intervening year. Today, Óglaigh na hÉireann raises the National Flag in military barracks and posts across the country, in Government Buildings and in the locations where our troops serve overseas on Peace Support operations. A strict protocol of respect is enshrined in our daily routine in each barracks, where all personnel in view of the Flagpole stop and face the Flag whenever it is being raised or lowered. Times for the raising and lowering of the Flag are also strictly adhered to, since in military tradition it is disrespectful to the Flag to leave it flying during the hours of darkness.

Throughout 2016, there will be ceremonies, events and programmes marking the significance of the Flag in the historical and cultural narrative in the 100 years since the Rising. The 2016 Programme will begin on 1st January with a flag raising ceremony in Dublin Castle. Thereafter, Óglaigh na hÉireann will raise the National Flag every day during 2016 on O’Connell Street, outside the GPO. In addition, Óglaigh na hÉireann will carry out flag raising ceremonies in each county as an integral part of the local authorities’ individual 2016 Commemorative Programmes across the country.

Care and Custody of Our National Flag

The Department of An Taoiseach are primarily responsible for protocol relating to use of the National Flag in Ireland.

Read more about the carriage and use of Our National Flag >>

The National Anthem, called The Soldier’s Song was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, an uncle of Brendan Behan. It was first published in the newspaper, Irish Freedom in 1912, but was not widely known until it was sung at the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916.

The chorus was formally adopted as the National Anthem in 1926.

Download the words for Amhrán na bFhiann (PDF 20kb)

Download the Sheet Music for Amhrán na bFhiann (PDF)

Listen to Amhrán na bFhiann

Ireland 2016

Ireland 2016 is the State’s Centenary Programme to commemorate the 1916 Rising. It encompasses a broad spectrum of seven key strands in honour of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, including State Ceremonial, Historical Reflection and Community Participation. Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Defence Forces, will play a key role in representing our citizens and ensuring the success of Ireland 2016.

Find out more on www.ireland.ie