God Save Ireland

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"God Save Ireland" is an Irish rebel song. It served as an unofficial Irish national anthem for Irish nationalists from the 1870s to the 1910s. During the Parnellite split it was the anthem of the anti-Parnellite Irish National Federation.[1]

The song was written by T. D. Sullivan in 1867, and first published December 7 1867, inspired by Edmund O'Meager Condon's speech from the dock when he stood trial along with the three Manchester Martyrs (Michael Larkin, William Phillip Allen, and Michael O'Brien).[2] After the three were executed, the song was adopted as the Fenian movement's anthem. This song takes its melody from "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Prisoner's Hope)" a song written in 1864 by George F. Root in response to conditions in the Andersonville Prison, a Confederate prison during the American Civil War.[3] This tune is also used in "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

John McCormack, an Irish tenor residing in the United States, had a big hit with the number, making the first of his popular phonograph records of it in 1906. For this reason, he was not welcome in the United Kingdom for several years.

Workers during the Dublin Lockout of 1913 adapted the lyrics to "God Save Jim Larkin", after the union leader.[citation needed] During the Easter Rising of 1916, "God Save Ireland" was famously sung by a bullet-ridden Cathal Brugha while single-handedly fighting off the advancing British troops.[4]

In Sport[edit]

The song was sung at football matches by fans of the Republic of Ireland team.[citation needed] The melody of the chorus was adapted for Ally's Tartan Army, the Scotland national football team's anthem for the FIFA World Cup 1978, this was itself adapted as the chorus of Put 'Em Under Pressure, the anthem for the Republic of Ireland team for the FIFA World Cup 1990.

Lyrics[edit]

High upon the gallows tree swung the noble-hearted three.
By the vengeful tyrant stricken in their bloom;
But they met him face to face, with the courage of their race,
And they went with souls undaunted to their doom.
"God save Ireland!" said the heroes;
"God save Ireland" said they all.
Whether on the scaffold high
Or the battlefield we die,
Oh, what matter when for Erin dear we fall!1
Girt around with cruel foes, still their courage proudly rose,
For they thought of hearts that loved them far and near;
Of the millions true and brave o'er the ocean's swelling wave,
And the friends in holy Ireland ever dear.
"God save Ireland!" said the heroes;
"God save Ireland" said they all.
Whether on the scaffold high
Or the battlefield we die,
Oh, what matter when for Erin dear we fall!
Climbed they up the rugged stair, rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England's fatal cord around them cast,
Close beside the gallows tree kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last.
"God save Ireland!" said the heroes;
"God save Ireland" said they all.
Whether on the scaffold high
Or the battlefield we die,
Oh, what matter when for Erin dear we fall!
Never till the latest day shall the memory pass away,
Of the gallant lives thus given for our land;
But on the cause must go, amidst joy and weal and woe,
Till we make our Isle a nation free and grand.
"God save Ireland!" said the heroes;
"God save Ireland" said they all.
Whether on the scaffold high
Or the battlefield we die,
Oh, what matter when for Erin dear we fall!

1Also 'Oh, no matter when for Ireland dear we fall!'

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morris, Ewan (2005). Our own devices: national symbols and political conflict in twentieth-century Ireland. Irish Academic Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-7165-2663-8. 
  2. ^ T. D., A. M., and D. B. Sullivan, Speeches from the Dock, re-edited by Seán Ua Cellaigh, M. H. Gill & Son, Dublin, 1953 (from the original in 1882), pp. 366–370.
  3. ^ Civil War Song and Music at Melogare.com
  4. ^ James Quinn, ‘Brugha, Cathal’, Dictionary of Irish Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2009), vol 1, pp 951–954