Erin Go Bragh Flag
History of the Erin Go Bragh Flag
The Erin Go Bragh flag was used from 1846-1848 by the Saint Patrick's Battalion. The flag was designed to represent the importance of Catholicism. The color green was chosen for its association with Saint Patrick who represents Roman Catholicism. The harp is used as it is a national emblem and "Erin Go Bragh" (Eirinn Go Brach in Irish) translates as "Ireland Forever." The Erin Go Bragh flag was used by European immigrants (mainly of Irish descent) of the Saint Patrick's Battalion who were not able to practise their religion freely and were being forced into Protestant Churches.
The Saint Patrick's battalion was a group of approximately 175 immigrants who resided in America due to the famine in Ireland during the 1840s and volunteered to fight on the Mexican side during the Mexican-American war. The Battalion was started by a man named, John Riley and as well as Irish soldiers, there were also German and Italian Roman Catholic soldiers. They all chose to join the Mexican force because of the shared Roman Catholic religion. Some soldiers stated that they were forced into Protestant Churches by the Americans and unable to practise Roman Catholicism and were often beaten due to this. Throughout the war, the Battalion of Saint Patrick, also referred to as "San Patricios" in Spanish, used the Erin Go Bragh Flag.
The Americans saw the Saint Patrick Battalion as traitors of the country, whereas according to the people of Mexico and Ireland, they were heroes. In an account by John Riley of the battalion, he states: "In all my letters, I forgot to tell you under what banner we fought so bravely. It was that glorious Emblem of native rights, that being the banner which should have floated over our native soil many years ago, it was St. Patrick, the Harp of Erin, the Shamrock upon a green field."
The first version of this flag was created in 1642 by Eoghan O Neill to represent the Irish country following the Irish Rebellion in 1641. At this time, the flag was just a plain green flag. In 1642, the harp was added onto the flag and in the 19th century, the phrase Erin Go Brach was added. Before the color green was used, the national color of Ireland was actually blue.
According to legend, Saint Patrick (Patron Saint of Ireland) brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th Century and converted many Pagans. It is claimed that he converted them by explaining the trinity to them by using clover leaves (shamrock) as an example of "three-in-one." This is now one of the reasons why Green is the national color of Ireland, instead of blue and why green is associated with Roman Catholicism.