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Order of St. Patrick

The Order of St. Patrick is an extinct chivalric order. It was the Irish equivalent of the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle. The Order was created by King George III and was awarded by him and subsequent kings as King of Ireland (1783-1800), the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1922) and again as King of Ireland (1922-1937). After the independence of the Irish Free State from the United Kingdom in 1921 it was awarded twice, to Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1928 and in 1934 to Henry, Duke of Gloucester, sons of King George V.

Originally the Order consisted of 15 members, excluding Royal members who were not counted among the appointed membership. In 1833 the number was raised to 22. Throughout its existence on Peers, not Commoners, were eligible for appointment to it.

In 1907 the Irish Crown Jewels, officially the Insignia and Regalia of the Order of St. Patrick, which had been created from precious stones that had previously belonged to Queen Charlotte, were stolen from Dublin Castle. They were never recovered.

In 1922, the new Executive Council of the Irish Free State (cabinet) under W.T. Cosgrave decided not to continue appointing members to the Order, which as a result went into abeyance. One member of the order, the Earl of Granard, who served as the member of the President of Ireland's Council of State during the 1940s and who was friendly with many leading Irish politicians, constantly campaigned for the reinstatement of the Order of St. Patrick. Though then Taoiseach Sean Lemass did consider the relaunch of the Order in the mid 1960s, nothing was ever done to bring it about.

After 1922, only two people were appointed to the Order. With the approval of the Irish government but on his own initiative, King George V appointed two of his sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Gloucester, to the Order. With their deaths in 1972 and 1974 respectively the Order became extinct. It remains theoretically possible that the Irish state or the British monarchy could ressurrect the Order, possibly as an Anglo-Irish chivalric order shared by both states. Though this option has been considered, no such recreation of the Order has to date taken place, though rumours have persisted that the creation of a new version of the Order, to be awarded jointly by the President of Ireland and the Queen of the United Kingdom, will be announced during Queen Elizabeth II's forthcoming Irish state visit, which is expected to take place in 2004.

External links

Additional reading

James H. Murphy, Abject Loyalty: Natonalism and Monarchy in Ireland During the Reign of Queen Victoria (Cork University Pres, 2001) ISBN 1859183344