Viking Up The Dubs



Henrik’s Norse flag of Dublin

On a recent visit to Dublin, Henrik Jacobsen a Danish graphic designer and architect was quite taken with the city and particularly the Nordic origins of Dublin which date back to 841 AD.

In true Danish, style he gathered up as many books as he could and read up on Viking Dyflin.

Henrik writes:

“The Viking story of Dublin is illuminating both from a Norwegian and Danish perspective.The fact that this city was almost a proto-Venice of the Irish and North sea is something that has largely been forgotten.

One of the things that struck me, is that there is an undercurrent of Nationalism in many of the accounts of Viking Dublin. I think many Irish people narrate the story of the Vikings as ‘us’ and ‘them’, when the truth is far more complex and interesting. I was amazed to learn that a Norse dialect was still spoken in parts of Dublin up until the early 14th century.

A lifelong vexillologist (flag lover) he set about a simple task (from a design perspective) of crafting a Nordic flag for Dublin using the city’s navy and sky blue colours.

Said Henrik:

“Every town and village in Denmark has its flag and crest. Ireland is no different in that respect, but you don’t see them, unless you attend a Gaelic football game. Indeed many of those flags are of recent origin. I personally think, Dubliners should be proud of the Norse origins of their city.

It took me a while to get my head around the fact that the colours used at those football matches were not the official colours of the city but only introduced when colour television was introduced for GAA matches…

The Danish flag was formulated in 1748, the design but not the colours were copied by the Norwegians, the Swedes (typical) and the Finns etc. I can see no reason why Dubliners cannot have their own Nordic flag.

I think it looks good. Also, one has to accept that the Irish national flag is itself a knock-off of the French tricolore, so there is no need to stand on ceremony about such things”


Thanks Antoine D’Alton

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35 thoughts on “Viking Up The Dubs

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    I like Henrik’s endeavours and the spotlight on Dublin’s Viking history….however, I think an artificial flag is the wrong way to go about it. I would concentrate on the Viking names amongst Dubliners. Check the now defunct phone book (is it still published?). Talk to the families of Hendrik, MacManus, MacAuliffe, Doyle, Loughlin….it would be an interesting social history experiment and you could explore nationalism and identity. I know many Dublin Viking offshoots who once resented having the name of an invader but now settle comfortably in the fact that they were developers of the city. Just my two hacksilver ;)

    1. Louis Lefronde

      All flags are artificial, the French Tricolore was derived from the colours of Paris? Traditonally flags had a certain fashion about them and were never static.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Agreed. But when does artificial become enshrined into an identity? It clearly did in the past with your tricolour and ours.
        My point was not about adding more flegs but exploring the social history and, I add, the significance of the Wood Quay curfuffle. I think that is welcomed over another emblem which hints and suggests as a visual but announces very little.

        1. louislefronde

          But symbolism is part of social and civic identity, especially in France and Italy. Remember they knocked-off our tricolor too.

          As an outsider looking in, I think Ireland is strong on literary arts but weak on visual arts comparatively speaking.

  2. Joxer

    Was in iceland last month…doing a tour and the guide was going around asking where folk on the bus hailed from and he had a little pithy remark for the response. when i answered Ireland he smiles and and says “Ah, Kindred”

    during the tour he made mention of the Viking raids and settlements in Ireland and also the fact that they took Irish Women to Iceland to settle there.

    Alas my research into both branches of our family do not tend towards the north rather to the east and south …. but dammit i would still fly that flag…

  3. roryna

    i thought the dubs colour change to blue/navy from blue/white was for B & W tv. and anyway the county colours largely date back to the early 1900s and had nothing to do with tv.
    ignoring the “facts” that sound like they were gleaned from a rambling pub bore the flag is a pile of pointless poo.
    more contempt than fight but there you go!

  4. Barbara Quinn

    Keep the flag flying Henrik, and while you’re at design a new flag for Ireland, because our current one sucks.

  5. Harry Molloy

    The Dubs are lucky that their colour combo kind of works. So does Sligo’s. Think that’s about it though.

  6. Steph Pinker

    A few interesting facts:
    Viking is a verb and a noun, in that, one had to ‘go viking’ (pillage, plunder, raid) to become one – as opposed to being from a particular place. It was Vikings’ fearless behaviour and how they would announce their behaviour upon arrival which became their identity, and subsequently how they were named.

    They contributed much to Irish culture/ language/ heritage/ history and archaeology, but we can’t look at Ireland in isolation. As a whole, Europe was heavily influenced by Vikings and their legacies, but one of the lesser known and lasting aspects of their impact within Europe, was their contribution to what has become accepted as democracy within the political system – a concept most people associate solely with the Ancient Greeks.

    Vikings (men and women) were innately democratic in their thinking, and their parliament was called ‘thing’ which provided representation at local, regional and national levels; these assemblies/ councils, subsequently became a template for judicial systems in many European countries such as Germany, France and England. Vikings also introduced us to the concept of trial by jury where 12 jurors ritually swear an oath in a judicial court, which was unlike the Roman system where a jury of peers wasn’t a consideration.

    Also, they never had horns on their helmets – for obvious reasons – unless you were of high status, even then they were only for ceremonial purposes.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      All factual (and I suspect, copied and pasted) Steph, but what about the living Viking ascendants today?

  7. Boy M5

    Dublin was founded by Vikings but Baile Atha Cliath was founded by Gaelic Irish before Dublin.

    To get to BAC, the Vikings got the 90 bus on the quays about two stops and got off at the Brazen Head.

  8. Pat Harding

    A hut beside a hurdle Ford doesn’t constitute anything and certainly not a ‘Baile’. Pre WW2 Gaeilc Supremacist crap. I can’t believe we’re still stuck with that ‘BAC’ nonsense.

    Great flag by the way

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