Northern Ireland

Irish 'Merkel thinks we're at work' flag sold for Oscar

The cheeky "Angela Merkel thinks we're at work" flag which turned into a Twitter sensation has been auctioned off to raise money for good causes.

Iris R&D and Glendun Group won with a joint bid of 15,800 euros.

It will be split between the Children's Medical and Research Foundation in Dublin and the Oscar Appeal, set up to help provide treatment for Oscar Knox, a Belfast boy with a rare disease.

The flag was auctioned off on Friday morning on RTE 2FM's Ryan Tubridy show.

Dublin pub Copper Face Jacks lost the auction but still donated 5,000 euros to the cause.

The flag grabbed headlines around the world, becoming the most read story on the BBC News site for three days and making appearances in a number of Irish newspapers, on US television and on the front page of Germany's Bild newspaper.

The friends behind the flag, Gerry Nolan, Richie Tuohy, Richie Leahy, Eoin Cantwell and Eoin O'Brien were taken by surprise at the speed their internet meme went viral.

"It's funny because we were just a few lads who got a flag made and went on the beer," Richie Tuohy said.

"We knew we wanted to make a flag and hoped our friends at home might be able to spot it during the games but we couldn't believe the popularity of the flag."

Image caption Oscar made his own flag in hospital "my ma thinks I'll be in bed early."

Stephen Knox came across the flag on Twitter while staying in hospital with his three-year-old son, Oscar, who was being treated for neuroblastoma, a rare disease which mainly affects children.

Oscar had been allowed to stay up late to watch the Ireland Euro 2012 game with his daddy so they decided to make their own flag and send a picture to the boys.

His flag "my ma thinks I'll be in bed early" became another instant hit online.

The Merkel Lads, as they have become known, were so touched by the picture they decided to auction their flag on RTÉ to raise money for the toddler.

The boys arrived back in Dublin on Wednesday evening and drove from the airport straight up to Mallusk to meet Oscar and see each others' flags as well play a bit of football.

Oscar was delighted with the meeting referring to the Limerick lads as "his new best friends."

Glendun and Iris R&D intend to donate the Merkel Flag back to Oscar.

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