A Hibernian Flag from the Easter Rising

Unidentified eagle flag from the Easter Rising

UPDATE: the flag has been identified.

Thanks to an investigation by the County Cork Association, researchers at New York University and others, the flag has been revealed as a banner of the Hibernian rifles/Irish American Alliance.

The banner displays 48 shamrocks and leaves, equal to the number of states in 1912.

A number of Irish-Americans took part in the Rising. They were members of the Irish American Alliance, a name given to the armed wing of the A.O.H. in Ireland. At the O'Donovan Rossa funeral in 1915 in Dublin, the divisions of the American affiliated A.O.H. in Ireland took part and carried various banners.

We would like to thank John Ridge, Ruan O'Donnell, Marion Casey, Liam Murphy, Dan Dennehy, Denis McCarthy, Miriam Nyhan and Mick McCormack for bringing this story to light.


The background story

In the course of the Easter Rising, a soldier appeared at a house on Mount Street, Dublin. He asked the family living there to keep some bullets and a flag for him, saying he would come back for them. However, the soldier never returned. Many years later, when the family handed the bullets and flag to the Michael Collins museum, nobody was able to shed any light on the origins of the flag.

One theory is that the flag may have a Wild Geese or an Irish-American connection. Jenny Smyth of Flags Ireland suggested that it could be of American manufacture, as the eagle is an American rather than an Irish emblem. The combined shamrock and laurel motif was a feature of flags of the Irish Volunteers in the period 1770 - 1800.

Michael Merrigan of the Genealogical Society of Ireland believes that the flag may belong to the Irish Republican Brotherhood or the Fenians, in both cases originating from the USA.

Curators at the National Museum in Dublin were unable to identify the flag, indicating that it was not an official flag of the Rising. However, the care and skill that went into the making of this flag prove that it was not produced in a hurry by an amateur. Flagmaster magazine describes it as a 'carefully and beautifully made parade flag'.

If you have any information that might help find the origins of this flag, please contact us here.

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