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Panceltic flag

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: panceltic flag | celts |
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Berthelier's "Interceltic" Flag

[Berthelier's "Interceltic" Flag]
image by Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez, 29 August 2008

A report of a previous flag is given by Divy Kervella (1998) in "Emblèmes et symboles des Bretons et des Celtes". According to the author, there is no Interceltic flag recognized by all. The most known was created by Robert Berthelier, from Brittany, in the 50's. It is made of a green field charged with two yellow interlaced triskells, the first of them symbolizing the Gaelic countries (Scotland, Man, Ireland) and the second of them symbolizing the Brittonic countries (Wales, Cornwall, Brittany). Each of the six nations is therefore symbolized by a branch of the triskells. The triskells are inscribed in a yellow Celtic circle, which has been used by the Celts as a rallying sign since the beginning of the century. Green symbolizes both fredoom and the sea which links the Celtic countries.

Green and yellow have been used as the Celtic colours since the birth of the Celtic movements. For instance, the movement Bleimor used a green flag including a yellow circle.

Purple is also often used, as the colour of heather, the emblem plant of the Celts. (See for instance the second flag of Bleun Brug movement, litt. flower of heather, with a purple field). The heather was used as symbol by two Breton movements with opposed ideology: Bleun Brug (Catholic and nationalist) and Brug (libertarian). On 23 August 1901, during its first meeting held in Dublin, the Celtic Congress unanimously adopted the heather as the Celtic flower.

"The Song of the Celts" by The Wolftones, says:
"The flower of the free
The heather the heather
The Bretons and Scots and Irish together
The Manx and the Welsh and Cornish forever
Six nations are we, all Celtic and free."
Ivan Sache, 11 February 2002

Divi Kervella & Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez, "Guide des drapeaux bretons et celtes", Yoran Embanner, 2008, p. 167, flag nr. 533.
Divi Kervella, "Emblèmes et symboles des Bretons et des Celtes", Coop Breizh, 2005, p. 62.
Divi Kervella, 29 August 2008

Collage Celtic flag

[Panceltic flag]
image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 10 February 2002

The flag is a collage of the flags of the six Celtic nations (clockwise from upper left): Brittany, Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland. I don't know the exact name of the emblem at the centre, but there is, at the British Museum, a very ancient bronze enameled shield by La Tène culture, from early 1st century BC, which has three circles in vertical disposition, the middle one bigger than the others, which has similar wavy patterns forming intricate designs, though not the one seen at the flag. So, the symbol has to be very ancient too.

Blas Delgado Ortiz, 10 February 2002

Linguistically, the Celtic culture (barely) survived only in the peripheral areas of the British Isles and in the French Brittany. These are the areas to this day more Celtic in nature. But throughout the northwestern Iberia (Spanish Galicia and Asturias and the Portuguese Trás os Montes), Celtic roots survived intensely in traditions and folklore. This area is a sort of second 
league in the ranking of "Celticness", despite having a Latin language (four of them, actually: Galician, Portuguese, Asturo-Leonese and Castillan). The flag above would be a flag of the first league, those areas with not only Celtic culture, but also Celtic language.

Jorge Candeias, 11 February 2002

The symbol in the center is a Triskell (in Breton Gaelic). It's a very old solar symbol. The meaning is the cycles of the universe : the years, the seasons, Life and Death etc.... It's a very positive and powerful symbol in our traditions.

Xavier Moritz, 13 January 2005

The emblem at the centre of the Collage Celtic Flag is called the triskele. The insigne of the Isle of Man, three human legs radiating from a central point, is another form of the same motif. The spiral triskele shown on the flag is a very ancient Celtic design, and one of the most frequently found symbols at ancient sites inhabited by Celtic people. I have seen the abstract spiral triskele, such as the design at the centre of the flag, described as a sun symbol and a symbol of fertility and/or pregnancy. Though it predates Christianity in the Celtic countries, some Christians prefer to think of it as symbolising the Trinity. Like the triquetra or 'Trinity knot', a related ancient Celtic symbol, the triskele is sometimes considered to represent the triplicities of mind, body, and soul, the three domains of Earth -- earth, sea, and sky -- or the pagan Triple Goddess in her triad manifestations of maiden, mother, and crone.
Cyndi Balfour-Traill
, 29 April 2005

Stiùbhart's "Pan-celtic" flag

[Panceltic flag]
image by Uilleam Stiùbhart, 22 May 2002

The use of Pan-Celtic flags is during meetings, such as Celtic festivals, for inter-Celtic groups, such as the Celtic congress, or perhaps for people of all or many of the six Celtic nations descent. The one I have designed is based on Celtic symbols. It has on the border in each corner Celtic knotwork. This, obviously, represents Celtic culture. In the center is a large Celtic cross. This represents the separate Christianities of the Six nations: Anglicanism (Ireland, Scotland, Wales), Catholicism (Ireland, Brittany), Methodism (Cornwall, Wales), and Presbyterianism (Scotland), and also Celtic Christianity. The six six-pointed stars represent the six Celtic nations. The knot in the center represents Christianity (the Trinity). 

The colors have several meanings. White means purity and justice. The dark blue of the knotwork border and the cross represents the sea which separates all of the nations. The red star represents the Isle of Man, the dark green, Ireland, the blue, Scotland, the white, Cornwall, the light green, Wales, and the black, Brittany. The six pointed stars each represent the six Celtic nations. 
Uilleam Stiùbhart, 22 May 2002

Isle of Man stamp issue depicting Celtic nations

On 12 May 2008, the postal administration of the Isle of Man will issue a set of eight postage stamps showing the flags of the Celtic nations, presented as follows:
"This set of stamps celebrates the links between the Isle of Man and other Celtic nations: Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Ireland, Asturias and Galicia. Each stamp features the native language of our fellow Celts. The Europa theme for 2008 is letter writing."
The eight stamps are available in a sheet showing the following flags (the names are given as shown on the stamps, with the English equivalent placed between brackets):
  • Top row, from left to right: 
  • 20 p: Kernow (Cornwall) - Black flag with white cross
  • 30 p: Mannin (Isle of Man) - Red flag with the three-legged emblem
  • 31 p: Alba (Scotland) - Blue flag with a white saltire
  • 48 p: Breizh (Brittany) - Horizontally divided black-white, nine stripes, a white canton charged with 11 ermine spots, 4 + 3 + 4 
  • Bottom row, from left to right:
  • 50 p: Éire (Ireland) - Vertically divided green-white-orange flag
  • 56 p: Asturies (Asturias) - Light blue flag with a yellow cross trefly bearing the yellow Greek letters "alpha" and "omega" 
  • 72 p: Cymru (Wales) - Vertically divided white-green flag with a red dragon
  • £1.13: Galicia - White flag with a blue descending diagonal stripe 
The stamps are square. On the bottom of the each stamp is written "INTERCELTIQUE - X", "X" being the place name. There is a motto in smaller characters above, overlapping the lower part of the flag, written in the language matching the flag:
  • Cornwall: "Den heb tavas a-gollas a dyr" ("A man without a language has lost his land", which should be "Den heb tavas a gollas y dyr" according to the Cornwall24 Discussion Board)
  • Isle of Man: "Gyn chengey, gyn cheer" (sometimes written with "ç" instead of "c", "No language, no country", the motto of the Manx Language Society "Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh", founded in 1899)
  • Scotland: "Tìr gun teanga, tìr gun anam" ("A country without language, a country without a soul")
  • Brittany: "Hep brezhoneg, Breizh ebet" ("Without Breton [language], no Brittany")
  • Ireland: "Tìr gan teanga, tìr gan anam" ("A country without language, a country without a soul")
  • Asturias: "Un país que desanicia la so llingua pierde l'alma" ("A country that abandons its language losts its soul")
  • Wales: "Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon" ("A nation without a language is a nation without a heart.")
  • Galicia: "Unha terra, un povo e unha fala" ("One land, one people, one language").

Sources: - Agence Bretagne Presse, "Le drapeau breton sur un timbre poste", 28 April 2008 - Isle of Man Post Office website Cornwall24 Discussion Board, 21 April 2008
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2008