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Irish Farewell Banner

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: ireland | farewell banner |
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I am looking for information on the Farewell Banner given to the "Wild Geese" in 1792. I have found many descriptions of how the flag is decorated, etc. I am more interested in seeing a photo or drawing.
Ryan Ravenscar, 12 December 2003

This flag was mentioned in G.A. Hayes-McCoy's "A History of Irish Flags from Earliest Times" [p. 75]. He says "This banner has been inadequately described, but we are told that it bore a representation of the Irish Harp with decorations of shamrocks and fleurs de lis and - apparently - that it also bore the motto 1692-1792 Semper et ubique fidelis (Always and everywhere faithful)." From the way Hayes-McCoy worded that I'm afraid that it sounds as if no reliable illustration may have survived, and any reconstruction which may be around today would be based partly on guesswork. For what it is worth, the source Hayes-McCoy cited as his source was J.C. O'Callaghan, "History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France" (1870 ed.; p.634).

Perhaps Hayes-McCoy was wrong, or perhaps I'm over-interpreting him, but as far as I can tell the chances don't appear good that we have a reliable illustration. But I'd be glad to be proven wrong.
Ned Smith, 14 December 2003

Part of the problem in finding an illustration may have been that as a farewell banner presented at the disbanding of the regiments it might have been publicly displayed only once- at the presentation. It may have been destroyed during the turmoil of the Revolution when many artefacts connected with royalty were destroyed, but if it did survive the Revolution it may still exist somewhere. Since many of the Irish officers married into continental families it could be in some family seat or local museum anywhere in Catholic Europe, its significance unrecognized.
Ned Smith, 16 December 2003

[Farewell Banner] by Diana LaMilza

Concerning the Irish Farewell Banner, here is a picture of what I have. I believe this is very old. I have the piece of flannel cloth with me. It is 11 inches by 7.5 inches. My husband bought this piece and about 10 other pieces from a rummage sale. For some reason, I think these pieces of flannel are called cigar box patches, whether that means they came with a box of cigars, I'm not sure. But they all do seem extremely old.
Diana LaMilza, 21 March 2005

I interpret the illustration as representing a plain green Irish flag. If so, it might well represent the John Mitchel flag which can be found on Plate VI (opposite page 112), Illustration VIII of 'A History of Irish Flags from earliest times', by G.A. Hayes-McCoy. Hayes-McCoy relates in Chapter 8, page 138, (after describing the original use of the flag during the Ballingarry episode) as follows:

What seems to be a similar flag still exists and is preserved in the National Museum of Ireland. It is a plain green poplin flag, four feet nine inches by four feet two inches - which is said to have been sent by John Mitchel to a Mrs O'Brien of Rathcormack, near Carrick-on-Suir, in 1848.
Andries Burgers, 21 March 2005

[Farewell Banner] image by Joe "Ryan Ravenscar", 20 July 2006
[Click on flag for full-size version of photo.]

I am happy to report that I have found more information on the Drapeau d' Adieu, and better yet I have a picture. If you are not familiar with the journal, 'The Irish Sword', you may be able to find it in a library. On page 350 of issue No. 78, Vol. XIX, Winter 1995, you will find a query submitted concerning the 'drapeau d'adieu' which was presented by the comte de Provence, brother of Louis XVI, in 1792 to those officers of the Irish Brigade that had followed the Bourbon princes into exile. As stated in the query, what appears to be a replica of the drapeau was presented by the Benedictine nuns of Ypres to the 16th Irish Division some time in 1914. The replica was later given by Major-General Sir William Hickie, the GOC of the division, to his nephew Captain Rickard Deasy (late Artillery Corps, Irish Army) who presented it to the Artillery School, Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, where it is now.
Joe "Ryan Ravenscar", 20 July 2006

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