Waving boldly between the state and city flags outside City Hall this week is the Irish flag, the first one in city history to honor Irish-American heritage.
Mayor Jim Ferrell made a proclamation to recognize Irish-American Heritage Week March 16-22 in the city of Federal Way at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
With this proclamation, the city is flying the first non-governmental flag since the mayor decided in December 2019 to allow the city to fly special interest flags that are recognized by council proclamation.
Federal Way resident Craig Patrick, who advocated for the Irish flag, spoke at the council meeting about the recognition.
“We’re all Americans,” he said. “We may have different cultures, but at the end of the day, we’re all Americans.”
While highlighting the historic triumphs of the Irish through years of genocide, stolen land and preserving their culture, Patrick said having the Irish flag making history in Federal Way is fitting.
“The Irish — always leading the way, pushing forward, never stopping,” he said. “Too Irish, too proud.”
Irish-American Heritage Week is recognized from March 16 through Sunday, March 22 in the city. As a symbol of celebration, the Irish flag will fly outside City Hall for the duration of the week.
Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations have been the widely recognized symbol of Irish presence in America in 1737, according to the proclamation.
Approximately 33 million Americans, or 10.1% of the total population, self-identified as being of Irish ancestry, according to a 2017 study by the U.S. Census Bureau. The island of Ireland held a population of roughly 4.9 million people in 2019.
Americans of Irish descent have had a lasting impact on U.S. history in the accomplishments of 17 United States presidents, 11 signers of the Declaration of Independence, first affordable automobile creator Henry Ford, and the first woman to walk in space, Kathryn Sullivan, the proclamation continues.
Large numbers of the “brave and generous” people of Irish descent served the United States Union Army in the American Civil War, with 257 individuals becoming Medal of Honor recipients.
The Irish flag proclamation comes amid the settling dust of Ferrell’s policy allowing the city to fly special interest flags recognized by council proclamation. That policy was prompted following months of controversy after the mayor declined to fly the pride flag in front of City Hall at an LGBTQ advocate’s request in June 2019.
The first non-governmental flag to fly in the city that didn’t require a council proclamation was the 12th Man Seahawks banner.