Starry Plough (flag)

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Irish Citizen Army
Starry Plough flag (1914).svg
Names The Starry Plough, Plough and Stars flag
Use Other
Proportion 1:1
Adopted 1914
Design A yellow plough with a sword for a coulter outlined in black with seven silver stars outlined in black.
Designed by William H. Megahy or George William Russell[1]
A modern variant of the Starry Plough flag.
Members of the socialist political party éirígí carry original-Starry Plough flags in Derry, January 2013

The Starry Plough banner (Irish: An Camchéachta) was originally used by the Irish Citizen Army, a socialist Irish republican movement. James Connolly, co-founder of the Irish Citizen Army with Jack White, said the significance of the banner was that a free Ireland would control its own destiny from the plough to the stars.[2]

The flag depicts an asterism (an identified part) of the constellation Ursa Major, called The Plough (or "Starry Plough") in Ireland and Britain, the Big Dipper in North America, and various other names worldwide. Two of the Plough's seven stars align (point) on the North Pole Star.

The original Starry Plough was unveiled in 1914 and flown over the Imperial Hotel by the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Easter Rising. Throughout the year the Plough prominently features in the night sky over the Northern Hemisphere. The 1916 flag is on display at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, in Dublin.[3]

While similar to the state flag of Alaska, it predates Alaska's by more than a decade.

1930s to present[edit]

The original Starry Plough (designed by George William Russell for the Irish Citizen Army)[4] showed silver stars on a green background.[5] During the 1930s the design changed to that of the blue banner, which was designed by members of the Republican Congress, and was adopted as the emblem of the Irish Labour movement, including the Irish Labour Party. Labour adopted the rose as its official emblem in 1991 but continue to use the Starry Plough for ceremonial occasions. It is also used by Irish republicans and has been carried alongside the Irish tricolour and Irish provincial flags and the sunburst flag, as well as the red flag at Provisional IRA, Continuity IRA, Real IRA, Official IRA, Irish People's Liberation Organisation and Irish National Liberation Army rallies and funerals.

The flag, and alternative versions of it, are also used by éirígí, the Connolly Youth Movement, Labour Youth, Ógra Shinn Féin, Communist Party of Ireland, the Republican Socialist Youth Movement, and socialist Celtic F.C. supporters. In the past it was used by the Sligo/Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation before it merged with the Irish Labour Party. The flag was draped on the coffin of the Independent TD Tony Gregory during his funeral.[6]

The older banner featuring the plough is still occasionally used today by the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Sinn Féin, the Workers' Party of Ireland, formerly Official Sinn Féin and many other socialist republican parties.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Higgins, Michael D. (April 30, 2013). "Remarks at the Conservation of the original Starry Plough Flag". Office of the President of Ireland. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Plough and the Stars Irish Theatre Players Perth". Department of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Object: Plough and the Stars Flag". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Irish Literary Portraits" ed. W. R. Rodgers p.195
  5. ^ "History of Starry Plough Flag". 1989-11-06. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  6. ^ "Hundreds attend Tony Gregory funeral". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2017.