How Green Became Associated With St. Patrick’s Day And All Things Irish

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and everyone is seeing green. It would be easy to assume the Emerald Isle and the color green are linked because of the country’s lush green landscape, but the association actually traces its roots to Irish political history. In fact, blue is believed to have been associated with Ireland before green was. Henry the VIII claimed to be king of Ireland in the 16th century, and his flag at that point would have been blue. A light blue became associated with the Order of St. Patrick, an 18th century era order of knights, perhaps to create a shade of blue for the Irish that was different from the royal blue associated with the English, says Timothy McMahon, Vice President of the American Conference for Irish Studies. McMahon says the earliest use of green for nationalistic reasons was seen during the Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, in which military commander Owen Roe O’Neil used a green flag with a harp to represent the Confederation of Killkenny. The color green cropped up again in the 1970s when the Society of United Irishmen wore green while attempting to bring nonsectarian, republican ideas to Ireland. We started wearing green clothing in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day back in the 19th century, when waves of Irish immigrants came to America looking for better job opportunities. (Time