Monday, March 12, 2018

Showing our Irish Colors: Handmade and vintage Irish items from Minnesota with love

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

You probably expected this blog post to be all about green. I did too.

But then I learned that the color we most associate with Ireland has not always been so emblematic of the island nation. More often, it was blue.

For example, the early mythological sovereign of Ireland, Flaitheas Éireann, was represented as a female figure dressed in a blue robe. Early depictions of St. Patrick had him also clothed in a blue robe. And when the chivalric Order of St. Patrick was established by King George III in the 18th century, its emblem incorporated a golden harp on a blue background, a combination that also forms the current Irish presidential flag.

Still today, many Irish sports teams wear blue uniforms.

So how and when did green supplant blue as the color of Ireland? No one seems to know for sure, but a few explanations have emerged.

One speculation is that the color reflects Ireland's image as the Emerald Isle (the grass being greener on their side of the fence, so to speak). By the way, that nickname was coined by the poet William Drennan.

Irish nationalism of the 19th century may have had more to do with it, though. The color blue was associated with England, so the Irish nationalists embraced green as a way to distinguish themselves from their neighbors.

(Irish?) tea note card from Cindy Lindgren, $4. 
The Irish national flag, which was adopted in 1922, has three vertical stripes: green, white, and orange. The green represents the Catholic nationalists, the orange is for the Protestants, and the white in the middle stands for the peace between them.

You could wear all the Irish colors with this hand-painted silk scarf from Palette Passion,  $35
Or it may have been earlier nationalist movements that positioned green as a quasi-official Irish color. The leaders of the Great Irish Rebellion of 1641 adopted a green flag with a harp as their banner. And another movement in 1790 inspired by the American and French revolutions was led by the Society of United Irishmen, who wore green-and-white uniforms.

Vintage Miss Ireland doll, $18 from RetroAmyO
I think we all have a natural attraction to the color green, anyway. Doesn't it make you think of nature and walks in the woods? It's worth noting that the style influencers at Pantone chose a blue-green shade they called "emerald" as their 2013 color of the year, and then another green hue, "greenery"  in 2017.

Vintage green-and-white cotton napkins, $16 from Preserving Home.

Psychologists say that green has a soothing effect on our moods, largely because of its association with nature. 

St. Patrick's Day banner from Sheri Sew Sweet, $14.99 for 32", $19.99 for 48"
Green is said to stimulate our creative thinking, too, according to some who insist that there is research to back this claim. (This blogger did not bother to track down the research, though, so it's up to you whether to believe it or not.)

Handmade women's T-shirt, $30 from Margaret Mousley
Here in the frozen north, green is certainly a welcome color after months of winter white. And before too much longer, we'll be seeing green grass and shamrocks (clover) in the lawn. In the meantime, you could hang this one in your window — and it's green in another sense, too, because it's made from recycled glass.

Recycled glass shamrock, $40 from Western Art Glass

Happy St. Patricks Day — and happy greening!


Brian Western said...

Lawrence Tureaud just left a message on my answering machine for you after tiptoeing through your wonderful Irish bouquet, "Tell Sharon she's rocking the Éire subtleties and nuances in her latest bit o' writty!" I had to google the name, aka Mr. T! I think your writing is pretty swell too, and thanks for including a little something from my esoteric glass larder - Sláinte!