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Great Seal of the Irish Free State

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Title: Great Seal of the Irish Free State  
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Subject: Irish Free State, Governor-General of the Irish Free State, Monarchy in the Irish Free State, Constitution of the Irish Free State, National symbols of the Republic of Ireland
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Great Seal of the Irish Free State

Reverse of the Great Seal of the Irish Free State

The Great Seal of the Irish Free State (Irish: Séala Mor do Shaorstát Éireann) is the seal which was used to seal official documents of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) by the Governor-General. The Great Seal is currently on public display at National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

Both sides of the Great Seal feature an image of the harp surrounded by the words "SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN" in Gaelic script. One side is engraved in silver, the other in copper.

After the 1937 Constitution of Ireland was enacted the Seal of the President of Ireland was struck as a replacement to the Great Seal. It is substantially the same as the former Seal but features the word "ÉIRE" instead of "SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN".


  • Origins 1
  • Evolution 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


As early as August 1922 civil servants in the Tim Healy, the Governor-General of the Irish Free State that the harp should be adopted as the symbol of the Free State. His view was that:[1]

On 28 December 1922 a meeting of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State decided that the Celtic Harp should be adopted.[1] Later, in August 1923 the Executive Council determined that the “Brian Ború Harp” would be the basis of the new seal. Archibald McGoogan of the Art Department of the National Museum perfected the design.[1] Elements of the Ardagh Chalice were incorporated into the design of the Great Seal. Final authorisation was given by the Executive Council on 17 October 1924 for the provision of the various seals. These included Ministerial Seals, using the ‘Brian Ború’ Harp and with “Saorstát Éireann” and the Ministerial title arranged around the harp in both Irish and English. The rope pattern was a direct copy of the base of the Ardagh Chalice.[1]


In March 1931, important changes in constitutional procedure in the Irish Free State were announced. The reforms meant that in future the King would be advised directly in matters concerning the Irish Free State's foreign affairs instead of through the Secretary of State for the Dominions.

Announcing the changes, the Irish Free State stated that the sealing of international documents with the Great Seal of the Realm had caused confusion in the minds of foreign Governments and that the decision would bring constitutional forms into conformity with the constitutional position now existing.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Swan, Ciarán (2008-03-28). "Design and change: The Oireachtas Harp and an historical heritage.". Design Research Group. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  2. ^ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.: 1848–1954)Monday 30 March 1931 – "Irish Free State – To Have Its Own Seal."
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