Erin Go Bragh
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Erin go Bragh is an anglicisation of the Irish phrase Éirinn go Brách (pronounced [ˈeːɾʲɪn̠ʲ ɡə ˈbˠɾˠɑːx]), in which Éirinn is the dative of Éire (meaning “Ireland”). In standard modern Irish the phrase is Éire go Brách (pronounced [ˈeːɾʲə ɡə ˈbˠɾˠɑːx]). It is probable that the English version was taken from what was a “dative” context, such as Go bhfanad in Éirinn go brách (“May I stay in Ireland for ever”) or Go bhfillead go hÉirinn go brách (“May go back to Ireland for ever”).
Alternatively, given that in a few local dialects (particularly in Waterford Irish and South Connacht Irish) Éirinn has replaced Éire as the ordinary name for Ireland, it could be that the phrase was taken from a speaker of such a dialect. This replacement of the nominative by the dative is common among Irish feminine and some masculine nouns of the second and fifth declensions, and is most widespread in the two dialect areas mentioned.
The word brách is an adjective/nominal which is equivalent to “for ever”, “eternal”, “always”, “still”, and conveys the global semantics of "unchanging"—such as in the phrases Fan go brách (“Just wait – don’t move – be patient and wait a bit more”) or fuair sé an litir agus as go brách leis go dtí an sagart chun í a thaispeáint dó (“he got the letter and without waiting off with him to the priest to show him it”).
A phrase confused with Erin go Bragh is Érin go Breá. This is actually [Tá] Éire go breá (“Ireland is (doing) fine/great/excellent”).
From the emergence of the Irish Patriot Party and its chequered success after 1780, a number of groups such as the Irish Whigs used phrases and slogans like “Erin go bragh” to proclaim an Irish identity, even though the users may not have been Irish speakers. By the time of the 1798 rebellion, the famous London cartoonist James Gillray cruelly portrayed the Patriot leader Henry Grattan as a rebel leader shouting “No Union” (no union with Britain) and “Erin go Brach”. Grattan was not a rebel in 1798 but suffered in the aftermath for his liberal views.
In time, the phrase became Anglicized. By 1847, it was already in use as “Erin Go Bragh”. That year, a group of Irish volunteers, including U.S. Army deserters, joined the Mexican side in the U.S.–Mexican War. These soldiers, known as Los San Patricios, or Saint Patrick’s Battalion, flew as their standard a green flag with a harp on it, with the motto “Erin Go Bragh” underneath. Variations on this flag design have been used at different times to express Irish nationalism.
AS FOR THE FLAG:
The arms are not officially recorded, but have been used for centuries as the arms of Ireland.
The traditional and well-known arms of Ireland are Azure a harp or (gold harp on blue field). They have been used by English monarchs to represent their claim to the island since the time of Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547), who first used a harp on his Irish coinage. Elizabeth I used a crowned harp as a badge for Ireland in her second Great Seal of 1586, although her Irish coinage showed three harps. Finally, when, in 1603, a new coat of arms was designed on the occasion of the union of England and Scotland under James I, a quarter with gold harp on blue representing Ireland was added. The quarter is still in the modern arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The gold harp on blue is attributed to the King of Ireland (“le Roi d’Irlande”) in one of the oldest medieval rolls of arms, the Wijnbergen Roll (a Flemish roll of arms dating from c. 1280). The harp, traditionally associated with King David, was a rare charge in early medieval rolls. Léon Jéquier’s ordinary of 19 early rolls (in Cahiers d’Héraldique) has only two arms with a harp, the Irish coat of arms in the Wijnbergen roll, and the Steinach family in the Zurich roll of arms c.1340.
Flag Color Symbolism:
The green pale in the flag symbolises Irish republicanism dating back to the Society of United Irishmen in the 1790s.The orange represents the minority who were supporters of King William III, who was of the House of Orange and originally the Stadtholder of the Netherlands, had defeated King James II and his predominantly Irish Catholic army at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. His title came from the Principality of Orange in the south of France that had been a Protestant bastion from the 16th century. It was included in the Irish flag in an attempt to reconcile the Orange Order in Ireland with the Irish independence movement. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the two cultures and a living together in peace. The flag, as a whole, is intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union of the people of different traditions on the island of Ireland, which is expressed in the Constitution as the entitlement of every person born in Ireland to be part of the independent Irish nation, regardless of ethnic origin, religion or political conviction.
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