There is an easy solution to this…

If you ever visit Ireland and you are even slightly interested in sport, you need to see a hurling match played in Croke Park. The fastest field game in the world, whose origins stretch thousands of years, played in front of over 70,000 screaming fans. You will never experience anything else like it.

Hurling and Gaelic football are the glue that hold this country together. Every county, from tiny Louth to mighty Dublin have their teams and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has a presence in every village and town in the country. It’s something we all do together. We have players whose families have been in Ireland since the Ice Age, and players who just got off the boat from Nigeria or China or Poland. It’s a beautiful thing, and I say this as someone who doesn’t even sport. But if you were to see a game played in Croke Park and you were able to tear your eyes away from the field and scan the crowd, you might notice something a little weird.

“What the…”

So, a controversy that has been quietly bubbling in Ireland for the last few decades is the…tradition…of some County Cork fans to fly the Confederate Battle Flag during their matches. Why do they do this? Well…it’s sort of a…joke.

So here’s the background. County Cork is the largest county in Ireland by area and has the second largest city in the republic, Cork City. And it’s a lovely place. Gorgeous scenery, tons of history and the people are really, really lovely despite having an accent that could shatter glass. Now Cork has always had a bit of a rivalry with Dublin because we’re deadly and it’s not unusual for Corkonians to refer to their city as “The Real Capital”. Cork is also known as “The Rebel County” because, during the Civil War (the Irish Civil War, I mean) they were a centre of Anti-Treaty resistance whereas Dublin was the seat of the Pro-Treaty government. And also, the Cork county colours are Red and White.


Red and White. Rebel County.

See what they did there?

Like I said, it’s a gag. Not a very funny one. But it’s not like Cork fans who fly the flag are advocating slavery or white supremacy, they’re just implying that Cork is going to rise up and overthrow Dublin (as if, we would crush the rebellious dogs). But, as many people both inside and outside of Cork have gained a greater understanding over the years as to just what that flag represents, the rising chorus of “NOT FUNNY!” has started to become deafening.

And I have a solution. I’m not here to lecture anyone. I’m not here to soapbox. I would just like to point out that there is a perfect alternative to the Confederate Flag for Cork fans to use.

Let’s check the criteria:

1)      Red and White.

2)      Rebel flag.

Boom. You’re welcome. We can all go home. Cork fans get to continue flying a flag that symbolises rebellion, and now they’re actually identifying with the rebels that everyone likes. Plus, let’s not forget, the greatest member of the Rebel Alliance was from Cork.

No, really. He’s from Youghal. Just listen to his accent.

So let’s ditch the stars and bars for the proud Alliance Starbird.

May the Force be with you, and UP CORK!


  1. Part of the frustrating thing here in the states is that a lot of people flying in the Confederate flag aren’t doing it out of racism or white supremacy, either; they’re just utterly tone-deaf to or ignorant of what it represents to black people or how it’s used (and been used for over a century) as a rallying cry for racism and violence.

  2. I’m from California, so I don’t understand the appeal of the Confederate flag. I know history isn’t black and white, but ever since elementary school, I was taught that the Confederacy were the “bad guys” and when they lost the war America was saved.

    1. In Irish schools, the American civil war is at best skimmed over. Teenagers here study your revolutionary war, and the Cold War, and pretty much nothing American in between.

      1. I understand that much. I mean, I sure didn’t learn much about Irish history in school.

        What I don’t understand is why Americans, being taught American history since they were little, would want to glorify the Confederacy in any way (with the exception of giving Confederate casualties proper resting places).

      2. Not too far off from the general outline of studies in most American high schools.

        Revolution, slavery, Hitler. In that order.

      3. I’m honestly shocked you study anything from other countries. Here in Merica you’d think we were god’s gift to the world and history began in 1776, the same year Jesus was born and ice cream was invented.

    2. Fellow Californian here. That largely lines up with my own experience, although to be fair AP US History classes do go some way into the Lost Cause mythology. That really depends on the teacher, though; only a really good teacher would keep their students focused on the defeated Reconstruction -> Jim Crow -> migration/nascent Civil Rights movement, and the white backlash to it, including the rise of the Dunning School. (Certainly I never learned about all this until well afterwards, and I had an exceptional APUSH teacher.)

      Also, since education is largely state-controlled rather than federal-controlled, you’d get varying standards across the US. Anecdotal accounts from Southerners I know indicate that the Dunning School still had a pretty strong grip, as recently as a decade or so ago.

  3. I’ve always called Cork “the real republic” or “the people’s republic of cork” ❤️🙈 Hup Donegal!

  4. I dunno, there aren’t many things that need to be consigned to the dustbin of history more than slavery, but Star Wars is one of them.

  5. Today I learned the County Cork is a real place, not just something made up to rhyme with “Mr. Stork” in the first song in Dumbo…

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