The Tiree Flag, “The Sun of Barley”, was designed by Donald Cameron,
at the flag’s unveiling ceremony, in the island’s An Talla Community Hall on September 8th 2018 and below
with his son Hector, at the flag’s raising outside the hall
received 56 per cent of the 1,598 votes cast and was duly added to the registry. The design recalls the island’s Gaelic name “Tir an Eòrna”, “The Land Of Barley”, with the twelve ears of the crop symbolising the island’s fertility. these are arranged into a circular pattern, offset to the left, symbolising the Sun and reflecting the island’s reputation for sunshine.
The design recalls the crest of the Tiree Association
which features a sheaf of barley, with crossed fork and rake.
On the day following its unveiling, the flag was used to mark the finish line of the Tiree Ultra Marathon (35miles!)
, the race winner
and second placed contestant
being wrapped in the island’s new flag!
The competition to secure a flag for the Argyllshire island
The competition was a joint initiative of Tiree Community Council
and was a consequence of a 2017 vote where the people of Tiree overwhelmingly backed the move by the Community Council to establish an island flag.
In announcing the competition, Doctor John Holliday,
of Tiree Community Council, made reference to “a lovely Tiree tradition to fly flags in a township when someone is getting married” , a wonderful incentive to create a specific Tiree flag to be used in this admirable practice! Dr Holiday further observed that “… many communities are deciding that flags are a good way to bring people together, to raise pride in where they live, and to show the world what they stand for.”
The submission stage ran from April 2nd to May 1st and elicited 261 entries from as far afield as Switzerland and Canada. On the 4th of June, local residents, Dr John Holliday, (far left below) Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Lachie Brown, Iain MacKinnon, Donna MacLean and Annine MacLean were joined by Dr Joseph Morrow, (far right below) the Lord Lyon (chief heraldic authority in Scotland) and the Flag Institute’s Philip Tibbetts (second from left),
at the An Talla Community Hall, to select these four finalists
for inclusion in a public vote, to determine the competition winner and new Tiree flag.
The five coloured bands on the top right design represent a thin strip of land with the island’s sandy beaches suspended between sea and sky. The bands are asymmetric, with one reading being the view of the island from a plane as you come in to land at The Reef.
The lower left design features a Nordic Cross, representing the island’s Viking heritage intertwined with the Celtic cross of the Early Christian church, which was centred on Saint Columba’s monastery on Iona and which had such close links to Tiree. The blue represents the sea and the sky, while the white represents the beaches.
The four bands of the lower right flag include yellow to represent the sun or ripe barley; green, machair flowers and the fertility of the island; white, the sands of the beaches or clouds; and blue, the sky and the sea. The order of the bands can also be taken to represent the ‘Land below the Waves’.
Many of the competition entries deployed a Nordic cross.
while stripes of one form or another, representing the colours of the sand, sea and machair flowers
were another popular choice. Other designers used waves, the sun and representations of the wind
to convey the essence of Tiree. The island is also famous for the basking sharks which patrol its waters.
The four finalists were displayed during Tiree Agricultural Show Day on Friday July 20th 2018,
where it was possible to vote in person. Voting slips were included in the island’s newspaper, An Tirisdeach, in the issue following the Show and it was possible to vote by post or online via a link at the http://tireeflag.com/ site, which was open for two weeks after 20 July.
Following the public vote, the winning design was submitted to The Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, for formal registration by the Lord Lyon, as dictated by Scottish law.
At the unveiling Dr Holliday commented “Donald’s design cleverly uses stalks of barley, reminding us that Tiree is the most fertile of all Hebridean islands, known as Tìr an Eòrna, the land of barley, combined to make a yellow orb, a symbol of the sunshine isle, and Donald included that image of barley and a circle which, at a distance, looks like the sun, giving an impression of the sunshine island.”
The flag is seen here
flying at Balehetrish on the island and here
at a campsite in Bath, Somerset! The Tiree flag is available to purchase here.