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God Save Ireland

"God Save Ireland"

1867

The following song, best known under the title of "God Save Ireland," appeared in the Nation newspaper within a short time of the execution of the three "Manchester Martyrs" on 23 November 1867. The words were penned by the journalist, poet, and politician T. D. Sullivan, a constitutional nationalist like his more famous brother Alexander Martin Sullivan, the editor of the Nation. Set to an American Civil War tune, the song became practically the Irish national anthem for the next fifty years.

SEE ALSO Balladry in English; Fenian Movement and the Irish Republican Brotherhood; Politics: 1800–1921—Changes to the Union; Sullivan Brothers (A. M. and T. D.)

Air—"Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching"

I

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 battle-field we die,
"Oh, what matter, when for Erin dear we fall!"

II

Girt around with cruel foes,
Still their spirit 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 they proudly;
"God save Ireland!" said they all:
"Whether on the scaffold high
"Or the battle-field we die,
"Oh, what matter, when for Erin dear we fall!"

III

Climbed they up the rugged stair,
Rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England's fatal cord around them cast,
Close beneath the gallows tree,
Kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last.
"God save Ireland!" prayed they loudly;
"God save Ireland!" said they all:
"Whether on the scaffold high
"Or the battle-field we die,
"Oh, what matter, when for Erin dear we fall!"

IV

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, or weal, or woe,
Till we've made our isle a nation free and grand.
"God save Ireland!" say we proudly;
"God save Ireland!" say we all:
"Whether on the scaffold high
"Or the battle-field we die,
"Oh, what matter, when for Erin dear we fall!"

T. D. Sullivan, Songs and poems(1899), pp. 14–15.

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