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The Green Ensign
is an historical flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...
flown by some Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...
A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...
s from the 17th century to the early 20th century. The flag consists of a green field with a golden harp and a canton containing either the English Flag (St George's Cross
St George's Cross is a red cross on a white background used as a symbolic reference to Saint George. The red cross on white was associated with St George from medieval times....
) or a version of the Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...
or "Union Jack".
This flag has appeared in these historical flag plates:
- 1685 Downham's Flag Chart
- 1700 Len's Flag Chart
- 1783 Bowles's Universal Display of the Naval Flags of all Nations
- 1799 Flags of all Nations
- 1848 Flaggen Aller Seefahrenden Nationen
- 1889 Drawings of Flags of All Nations - British Admiralty
- 1917 National Geographic Flag Book
There remains a lively debate concerning whether the flag had any form of local official status within the British Isles or was simply an informal flag used by some merchant ships.