‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ (‘The Soldier’s Song’) is the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland. It was written by Peadar Kearney late in 1909 or early in 1910, according to an affidavit signed by him in 1926.
The music, by Patrick Heeney, is understood to have been composed around the same time. The original English text of ‘The Soldier’s Song’ was first published in Bulmer Hobson’s Irish Freedom newspaper in 1912.
The rebel war song, Amhrán na bhFiann, became instantly famous when it was sung in the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916.
‘The Soldier’s Song’ had not been widely known until the Easter Rising of 1916, but after that, it exploded into the national consciousness of Ireland, and became the anthem of Irish freedom.
Liam Ring (Ó Rinn) was responsible for its first translation into Irish in late 1916, and it was published in the Army magazine, An tÓglach, on 3 November, 1923. On 12 July, 1926, the executive council of the Irish Free State decided to adopt the music of ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ / ‘The Soldier’s Song’ as the official national anthem.
All three men responsible for the national anthem, Peadar Kearney, Patrick Heeney and Liam Ring (Ó Rinn), were from Dublin’s north inner city and lived within 200 yards of each other.
In 2007, An Post, the Irish postal service, issued a new stamp marking the centenary of Amhrán na bhFiann, the Irish national anthem.
The 55c stamp shows members of the school choir from Coláiste Íosagáin, an Irish Catholic all girls secondary gaelscoil in Dublin, Ireland, beside a border in the Irish national colors.
The song consists of three verses and a chorus. It was the chorus that was formally adopted as the National Anthem of the Irish Free State in 1926, replacing ‘God Save Ireland’.
The first two lines of the anthem and the last two, played together, form the Presidential Salute, which is played when the President of Ireland attends official events.
In 1934, the Republic of Ireland acquired the copyright of Amhrán na bhFiann.
“Amhrán na bhFiann” • “The Soldier’s Song”
Lyrics and Translation
Sinne Fianna Fáil, atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn,
Buíon dár slua thar toinn do ráinig chugainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor,
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.
Anocht a théam sa bhearna bhaoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil, chun báis nó saoil,
Le gunna-scréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar,
Seo libh canaig’ amhrán na bhFiann.
Seo dhíbh, a chairde, duan Ógláigh
Cois bánta réidhe, ar ardaibh sléibhe
A bhuíon nach fann d’fhuil Ghaeil is Gall
Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland,
Some have come from a land beyond the wave.
Sworn to be free, no more our ancient sireland,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the ‘bearna bhaoil’
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal,
‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.
We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song
In valley green, or towering crag
Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!