The Irish Confederate Flag

The flag of the Irish confederate flag States of America has regained global prominence following the June massacre of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a controversial symbol because of its association with slavery and racism in the American South, but it also flies around the world—including Ireland—where it can be seen on GAA grounds as part of the logo of Cork hurling and football clubs.

In the aftermath of the Charleston massacre, then Cork County Board chairman Ger Lane asked fans not to bring the Stars and Bars to Pairc Ui Chaoimh stadium. Today, his successor Tracey Kennedy tells The Irish Times that stewards will confiscate any such banner brought to the grounds.

The Irish Confederate Flag: A Symbol of Irish-American Identity

Although this is a thorny issue, there’s no doubt that the flag has some defenders in Ireland. They argue that it reflects the country’s revolutionary heritage, even though it was only its most recent rebellion against centralized authority (albeit one in Washington, DC rather than London).

For example, William Charles Meagher, leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, wore a coat with the Stars and Bars as he defended a fortress in 1848 before being sentenced to death for treason; this was commuted to banishment to Van Diemen’s Land, where he died. Meagher was an admirer of the American revolutionary John Brown, and it is likely that his coat reflected this influence. The American Civil War was also a time of great Irish migration to the United States.

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