On Monday 7th March the Flags for Schools programme culminated when representative groups of students and teachers from every secondary school in the country, as well as some of our finest young athletes, received a National Flag and a copy of the Proclamation at a special ceremony in Croke Park.
The Flags for Schools initiative was first set up by Senator Mark Daly and the Thomas F. Meagher Foundation chairman Rev. Michael Cavanagh. The inaugural event of the TFM Foundation was held last year in Waterford. The initiative has since grown into a partnership with the Defense Forces and the Department of Art, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Our National Flag was first raised in Waterford in 1848 by Thomas Francis Meagher and was brought to Dublin prior to 1916 by Irish Volunteers from Waterford City. The TFM Foundation are delighted this special event could be held in Croke Park and for the ongoing support of the GAA as one of their key partners along with the FAI, Navillus and Kerry Group.
This year’s 7th of March ceremony, included a keynote address by President Michael D. Higgins, and was the first of its kind in the history of the state. Ryan Tubridy hosted the event, and included a formal presentation of a handmade flag to a representative of every secondary school and education centre by the Defence Forces. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, who is leading the Ireland 2016 programme, also made a special presentation of the Flag to representatives from sporting organisations. The ceremony was brought to a close with a special performance by Seo Linn.
Speaking in advance of the ceremony Minister Humphreys said:
“Over the past five months, primary schools the length and breadth of the State have received a tricolour and a copy of the Proclamation, specially delivered by a member of the Defence Forces. The Flags for Schools programme has arguably been the most important of Ireland 2016 to date, bringing history to life for young people in an exciting and interactive way. It has allowed our school children to reconnect with our National Flag and fully understand its peaceful message.
“I would like to thank the Defences Forces, the Department of Education and indeed all of the school teachers and principals which have made this initiative a success. Today we are teaming up with the Thomas F Meagher Foundation to complete the programme by providing a National Flag to every secondary school in the State. This is the start of what will be a very busy few weeks of commemorations, when I hope people right across the country will come together to remember our shared history, reflect on our achievements and re-imagine our shared future.”