Tiocfaidh ár lá

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Tiocfaidh ár lá (Irish pronunciation: [ˈtʲʊki aːɾˠ ˈl̪ˠaː]) is an Irish language phrase which translates as "our day will come", referring to a potential future united Ireland. It was commonly used by Physical force Irish republicans, especially the Provisional IRA. It is now more commonly used by nationalists/citizens who believe in the prospect of a united Ireland and also by people who want to promote the Irish language.


The English phrase "our day will come" has been used in various contexts. "Our Day Will Come", a pop song about love, was a 1963 hit for Ruby & the Romantics. In the context of Irish politics, in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the nationalist Michael Davin (based on George Clancy) says Irish freedom fighters "died for their ideals, Stevie. Our day will come yet, believe me."[1]

The Irish phrase tiocfaidh ár lá is attributed to Provisional IRA prisoner Bobby Sands,[2][3][4][5] who uses it in several writings smuggled out of the Maze Prison.[6] It is the last sentence of One Day in my Life, the diary he kept of the 1981 hunger strike in which he died, published in 1983.[7][8] Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost antedates this to a pamphlet published c.1975–77 by Gerry Adams of his experiences in the Maze.[9] Many republicans learned Irish in prison, (a phenomenon known as "Jailtacht", a pun on Gaeltacht)[10] and conversed regularly with each other through Irish, both for cultural reasons and to keep secrets from the wardens.[11] The Irish language revival movement has often overlapped with Irish nationalism, particularly in Northern Ireland.[12][13][14] Tiocfaidh ár lá has been called "the battle cry of the blanketmen".[15] The upsurge in republican consciousness in the wake of the hunger strikes also increased awareness of the Irish language in republican areas.[16]


The slogan has been used by Mark, representatives,[17][18][19] appeared on graffiti and political murals,[20] and been shouted by Provisional IRA defendants being convicted in British and Irish courts,[17][21] and by their supporters in the public gallery.[22][23] Patrick Magee said it after being sentenced in 1986 for the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing.[24]

Michael Stone got past the republican security cordon to commit the 1988 Milltown Cemetery attack by saying tiocfaidh ár lá.[25][26]

The 1992 and 1993 editions of Macmillan's The Student Book: The Indispensable Applicant's Guide to UK Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities advised potential University of Ulster students that "Tiocfaioh ar la" [sic] was a common greeting on campus and meant "pleased to meet you". This error, suspected to be the result of a prank, was expunged from the 1994 edition.[27][28][29][30]

The 2007 arrest of Irish-language activist Máire Nic an Bhaird in Belfast was allegedly partly for saying tiocfaidh ár lá to Police Service of Northern Ireland officers, although she claimed to have said tiocfaidh bhur lá ("your day will come").[31]

Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, a Belfast-born Irish-language poet, uses the phrase in a 2002 poem 'Ag Siopadóireacht' ("Shopping") characterised by Mac Giolla Chríost as "the voice of youthful rebellion, ... of hip-hop".[32] In Mac Lochlainn's own English translation of his poem, Tiocfaidh ár lá is left untranslated.[32]

Tiocfaidh Ár Lá (TÁL) is the name of a fanzine for Celtic F.C.'s Irish republican ultras.[33] It was established in 1991, at which time Celtic was enduring a period of prolonged inferiority to Rangers F.C., their Old Firm rivals, giving "our day will come" an extra resonance.[34]


Beidh ár lá linn mural in Andersonstown in 1989.

Similar slogans include:

Beidh an lá linn 
(Irish pronunciation: [bʲɛj ən ˈl̪ˠaː lʲɪnʲ]) literally translates as "the day will be with us".[25] Some Irish-language speakers, including Ciarán Carson, contend that tiocfaidh ár lá is a less idiomatic expression, reflecting English-language conventions (see Béarlachas).[25][35] Mac Giolla Chríost disputes this, on the basis that Tiocfaidh an lá ("The day will come") is standard Irish.[9] The hybrid form beidh ár lá linn (Irish pronunciation: [bʲɛj aːɾˠ ˈl̪ˠaː lʲɪnʲ] "our day will be with us") is also found among Republicans.[36]
Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach! 
(Irish pronunciation: [bʲɛj ˈl̪ˠaː ɛlʲə ɡə bˠiːɾˠəx], "Power will have another day!") were the last words from the gallows of Edmund Power of Dungarvan, executed for his part in the Wexford Rebellion of 1798. The phrase was often cited by Éamon de Valera.[37] It occurs in the play An Giall, by Brendan Behan; his English translation, The Hostage, renders it "we'll have another day". It is echoed in There will be another day, the title of republican Peadar O'Donnell's 1963 memoir.[38] The slogan is not exclusively a political slogan, and may simply mean "another chance will come".[39]

Parodies of tiocfaidh ár lá include:

an English-language pronunciation spelling of tiocfaidh, it is slang for an Irish Republican (sometimes shortened to Chuck).[40]
"Tiocfaidh Armani"
mocking Sinn Féin's move towards respectability from the peace process[41][42]
"Tiocfaidh Ar La La"
on T-shirts depicting the eponymous Teletubby as an IRA member.[43]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ Joyce, James (1916). "Ch. 5". A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Toolis, Kevin (2000). Rebel Hearts: Journeys within the IRA's soul. Picador. p. 412. ISBN 0-330-34648-2. 
  3. ^ Liam Harte; Yvonne Whelan; Patrick Crotty, eds. (2005). Ireland: Space, Text, Time. Liffey Press. p. 110. ISBN 1-904148-83-2. 
  4. ^ Shanahan, Timothy (2009). The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism. Edinburgh University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-7486-3530-0. 
  5. ^ Coogan, Tim Pat (2002). The IRA (revised ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 499. ISBN 0-312-29416-6. 
  6. ^ Sands, Bobby (1998). Bobby Sands: Writings from Prison. foreword by Gerry Adams. Mercier Press. ISBN 1-85635-220-X. 
  7. ^ Walker, Breifne (November 1983). "Theology and Hope in Northern Ireland". The Furrow. 34 (11): 698–702: 698. JSTOR 27677735. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ Kearney, Richard (1988). Transitions: narratives in modern Irish culture. Manchester University Press. pp. 224–5. ISBN 0-7190-1926-5. 
  9. ^ a b Mac Giolla Chríost 2012, p.52
  10. ^ Mac Giolla Chríost, Diarmait (2007). "The Origins of 'the Jailtacht'". Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium. 27: 317–336. JSTOR 40732064. 
  11. ^ Jarman, Neil (1997). Material conflicts: parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland. Berg. pp. 242–3. ISBN 1-85973-129-5. 
  12. ^ Tanner, Marcus (2006). The last of the Celts. Yale University Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-300-11535-0. 
  13. ^ O'Reilly, Camille C (2001). "Irish language, Irish identity: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the European Union". In Camille C O'Reilly. Minority Languages in the European Union (5th ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 83–96. ISBN 0-333-92925-X. 
  14. ^ Nic Craith, Máiréad (2002). Plural identities—singular narratives: the case of Northern Ireland. Berghahn. pp. 150–1. ISBN 1-57181-314-4. 
  15. ^ Mac Giolla Chríost 2012 p.63
  16. ^ Crowley, Tony (2005). Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537–2004. Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-19-927343-X. 
  17. ^ a b Cusack, Jim (14 August 1984). "5,000 march in peaceful demonstration". The Irish Times. p. 1. Retrieved 3 April 2009. Both Mr Adams and Father Burke concluded their speeches with "Tiocfaidh ár lá," "Our day will come," the expression used by Republican prisoners at their sentencing at Belfast Crown Court. 
  18. ^ O Coilain [sic], Caoimhghin (30 June 1984). "Buiochas". Leitrim Observer. p. 7. 
  19. ^ Ó Súilleabháin, Cionnath (7 October 2000). "Sinn Féin thanks to Áine!". Southern Star. p. 11. 
  20. ^ Rolston, Bill (1991). Politics and painting: murals and conflict in Northern Ireland. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-8386-3386-2. 
  21. ^ Geraghty, Tony (2002). The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 350. ISBN 0-8018-7117-4. 
  22. ^ "Six jailed for arms crimes salute as supporters shout 'Up the Republic'". The Irish Times. 20 January 1996. p. 22. Retrieved 3 April 2009. There was prolonged applause from about 30 supporters and shouts of "Up the Republic" and "Tiocfaidh Ar La" after the sentences were handed down. 
  23. ^ "Court told of gun battle as six jailed over bank raid". The Irish Times. 3 July 1990. p. 3. Retrieved 3 April 2009. there were shouts of "Tiocfaidh ár la" and "Up the Provos" from the public gallery after sentence was passed. 
  24. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (10 December 2001). "The Monday interview: Bombs and books". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  25. ^ a b c Carson, Ciarán (1998). The Star Factory. Arcade Publishing. pp. 41–2. ISBN 1-55970-465-9. 
  26. ^ Stone, Michael (2004-05-31). "15: Milltown". None Shall Divide Us: To Some He is a Hero. The IRA Want Him Dead. This is the True Story of the Artist Who Was Ireland's Most Notorious Assassin. John Blake Publishing, Limited. p. 113. ISBN 9781843589723. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  27. ^ Moriarty, Gerry (17 July 1993). "IRA slogan has become college "buzz word"". The Irish Times. p. 1. 
  28. ^ Klaus Boehm; Jenny Lees-Spalding, eds. (1992). The student book 93 : the applicant's guide to UK colleges and universities (14th ed.). London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-56700-5. 
  29. ^ Klaus Boehm; Jenny Lees-Spalding, eds. (1993). The student book 94 : the indispensable applicant's guide to UK colleges and universities (15th ed.). London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-58514-3. 
  30. ^ Klaus Boehm; Jenny Lees-Spalding, eds. (1994). The Natwest student book 1995 : the applicant's guide to UK colleges and universities (16th ed.). London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-59947-0. 
  31. ^ "Irish language teacher in Belfast guilty of disorderly behaviour". 26 February 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2007. 
  32. ^ a b Mac Giolla Chríost 2012 p.79
  33. ^ Jarvie, Grant; Graham Walker (1994). Scottish Sport in the Making of the Nation: Ninety Minute Patriots?. Leicester University Press. p. 184. ISBN 0-7185-1454-8. 
  34. ^ "Tiocfaidh Ar La – For Celtic & Ireland". Retrieved 2 April 2009. 
  35. ^ De Brún, Fionntán (2006). Belfast and the Irish language. Four Courts Press. p. 174. ISBN 1-85182-939-3. 
  36. ^ Buckley, Michael (Spring 2000). "Image V: Andersontown (sic)". The Writing on the Wall: Continuity and Change as Represented in the Republican Murals of West Belfast. Stanford University. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  37. ^ Hughes, Art J. (2007). "Possible Echoes from An tOileánach and Mo Bhealach Féin in Flann O'Brien's The Hard Life". In Séamus Mac Mathúna; Ailbhe Ó Corráin. Celtic Literatures in the Twentieth Century (PDF). Maxim Fomin. Centre for Irish and Celtic Studies, University of Ulster. p. 220, fn. ISBN 5-9551-0213-2. 
  38. ^ Murphy, John L. (2012). "Review of Jailtacht: The Irish Language, Symbolic Power, and Political Violence in Northern Ireland, 1972-2008 by Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost". Estudios Irlandeses. 8: 189–190. 
  39. ^ Dillon, Charlie. "Beginners' blas: Sloinnte Normannacha". Blas. BBC Northern Ireland. Retrieved 3 April 2009. Hence the saying Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach, meaning that another chance will come along. 
  40. ^ Stanage, Niall (8 March 2007). "Chuck Schumer, Militant Republican". The New York Observer. Retrieved 5 May 2007. it became so associated with the IRA that it entered popular slang – a "Chuck" or "Chucky" was a person known to support the guerrilla group's armed struggle. 
  41. ^ Hayes, Paddy (16 March 1995). "Sinn Féin". The Irish Times. p. 15. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  42. ^ Holohan, Renagh (15 May 1999). "Now it's...tiocfaidh Armani". The Irish Times. p. 38. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  43. ^ Marks, Kathy (15 December 1997). "Eh-oh! Can I have a terrorist for Christmas?". The Independent. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 

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