Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick

Today being the feast of St Patrick it is once more time for my annual plea for the revival of The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.

Robes and insignia of the Order of St Patrick.
The Mantle and Collar of The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick
Image: heritage-images.com/ Spectrum Colour Library

My previous posts on the Order can be seen at I have posted on several occasions about the Order of St Patrick in The Order of St Patrick in 2011, Banners of the Knights of St Patrick in 2012, The Order of St Patrick in 2013 and Insignia of the Order of St Patrick last year. That most recent one has a series of links to related websites.

Despite the reluctance of the Free State government after 1922 the Order should have been maintained for more than just conferments upon members of the Royal Family - the last being HRH The Duke of York as heir to the throne in 1936 - and until the Abdication Crisis the King was Sovereign of both parts of Ireland, as indicated by the Royal Title after 1928 - King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions... - and despite the southern Constitution of 1937 and the External Relations Act the issue was not definitively resolved until 1949 in respect of the southern twenty six counties. For the six counties of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, with its own hierarchy of government, the Order could have been bestowed, and it was suggested that this be done for Ulster-born military commanders after the Second World War, but opposition from the southern government was allowed to prevail.

Today it could be seen as a symbol of reconciliation and shared traditions and identity. Ireland as a whole appears to be getting much better at looking at its past dispassionately and celebrating its diversity of traditions. In such a climate the Order of St Patrick can surely be accommodated. It still provides the design of the Insignia of the Irish Guards - no-one has suggested changing that as far as I know. If HRH The Duke of Cambridge can wear that uniform at his wedding, as he did, why not make him, his father and uncles Knights of St Patrick?

 the most illustrious order of st. patrick, a fine quality breast star, unmarked, silver, with gold and enamel centre, 82 x 81 mm., gold pin for wearing, <i>extremely fine, circa 1870</i>

Star of the Order of St Patrick, unmarked, silver, with gold and enamel centre, 82 x 81 mm., gold pin for wearing, extremely fine, circa 1870

Attributed to Mervyn Edward Wingfield, K.P., the 7th Viscount Powerscourt, who was elected a Representative Peer for Ireland in 1865 and invested as a Knight of St. Patrick on 2nd August 1871.

Sold at Christies in 2000.

Image: christies.com

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