33 The Mall
Flying the Flag at 33 The Mall in Waterford City
The Ancient East boasts many buildings of historic importance and a notable one of national interest is 33 The Mall in Waterford City. Standing proudly on the corner of Mall Lane and The Mall this architecturally pretty building with its unusual bow front, is the place where the Irish flag was flown for the first time and the original window where it was unveiled is still there to this day.
It was the famous Young Irelander, Waterford native and future Governor of Montana, Thomas Francis Meagher, who dramatically unfurled the flag from the first-floor window to show it to an assembled crowd below. He was an orator of note and his accompanying speech, passionately delivered, spoke of Irish freedom and unity and is enshrined today as one of the greatest speeches ever given in the city. Meagher, who at the time was heavily involved in the fight to free Ireland from English rule, had been to France and witnessed the revolution. He told his rebel French counterparts of the Irish struggle and recognising the parallels with the French story, some local French women sewed together the green white and orange and presented it as a gift to Meagher. It was similar to the new French flag that united the red and blue (the right and the left) with the white in the middle signifying peace. The green and orange of how they had envisaged the Irish tricolour, signified peace between the Catholic and Protestant sides in Ireland.
Thomas Francis Meagher returned to Ireland with the flag and on 9th March 1848 he used the first floor of the Wolfe Tone Club at 33 The Mall as public platform and flew the tricolour from the front window. The flag was officially adopted by the new Irish Republic in 1942 and remains the official flag of Ireland to this day. Two blue plaques and a bronze bust of Meagher are displayed on the front of the building and the flag is also on display. It has also inspired an annual festival held in Waterford each March which revolves around the flag being ceremoniously hoisted to remember its origins. It is also worth noting that 33 The Mall sits directly across from Waterford’s seat of government, City Hall.
33 The Mall was built in the late Georgian period. It has been through many transformations. As the Wolfetone Club it was a place for idealists to right the world and pound the tables with talk of freedom and liberation. At another time, it was a thriving tobacconist shop, a nightclub, a cafe and in the early part of the new millennium it housed a high-end restaurant.
Today the building is our head office and visitor centre for Anchor Spirits Ireland Limited and that first floor window where the flag was flown for the first time is the window of our meeting room. The history of the building and its legacy are becoming a big part of the Anchor Spirits story as people from all over the world tend to knock on the door when they are visiting in the area. Strangers have become friends as we often invite them in and raise a toast to Thomas Francis Meagher.