God Save Ireland (2:36)

Cover of Rifles of the Ira

From Rifles of the Ira and 6 other releases

“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.

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). 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. 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. 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.

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