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Amhrán na bhFiann

"Amhrán na bhFiann" (trans "The Soldier's Song" and pronounced 'Ow-rawn na vian') is the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland. With lyrics by Peadar Kearney and music by Kearney and Patrick Heeney it was first published in Irish Freedom in 1912 (though it was composed in 1907). The song was relatively unknown until it was sung at the General Post Office (GPO) during the Easter Rising of 1916, and afterwards in British internment camps. The song became the official state anthem in 1926 when it replaced the unofficial anthem God Save Ireland. God Save the King served as the anthem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until the independent Irish Free State was established in 1922. The continued use of God Save the King by some Irish people caused embarrassment to the new Irish state; Irish Governor-General James McNeill famously refused to attend a public function in Trinity College Dublin when he discovered that the College intended playing it during his visit. (A minority continued to sing it, as indeed they continued to pray for the King and Queen in religious ceremonies, right up until the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1949.)

The anthem consists of the Chorus only, (beginning Sinne Fianna Fáil . . . to . . . Amhrán na bhFiann. below). The first two lines and the last two, played together, form the Irish 'Presidential Salute', played when Her Excellency the President of Ireland attends events.

In recent years, a number of Irish newspapers and columnists have proposed replacing Amhrán na bhFiann with a new Irish national anthem, arguing that the current wording is excessively violent and anti-British. Others have argued that the melody is difficult for bands to play (as Ireland regularly experiences at international sporting events, where either the entire song (not just chorus that is the actual anthem) is played - this occurred at the Los Angeles Olympics, for example - or the right part is played but at the wrong speed, which occurred at the recent olympics). A new sporting anthem, 'Ireland's Call' is now used at international rugby matches, because the Irish rugby team is drawn from the whole island, and is supported by nationalists and unionists, whereas Amhrán na bhFiann is merely the anthem of the twenty-six county Republic of Ireland. However it seems unlikely in the short term at least that Amhrán na bhFiann will be replaced as the National Anthem, though another idea, that like Germany after World War II it should change the words while keeping the original melody, has been suggested.

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Seo dhibh a cháirde duan Oglaigh,
Cathréimeach briomhar ceolmhar,
Ár dtinte cnámh go buacach táid,
'S an spéir go min réaltogach
Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo
'S go tiúnmhar glé roimh thíocht do'n ló
Fé chiúnas chaomh na hoiche ar seol:
Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.

Sinne Fianna Fáil A tá fé gheall ag Éirinn, buion dár slua Thar toinn do ráinig chugainn, Fé mhóid bheith saor. Sean tír ár sinsir feasta Ní fhagfar fé'n tiorán ná fé'n tráil Anocht a théam sa bhearna bhaoil, Le gean ar Ghaeil chun báis nó saoil Le guna screach fé lámhach na bpiléar Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.

Cois bánta réidhe, ar árdaibh sléibhe, Ba bhuachach ár sinsir romhainn, Ag lámhach go tréan fé'n sár-bhrat séin Tá thuas sa ghaoith go seolta Ba dhúchas riamh d'ár gcine cháidh Gan iompáil siar ó imirt áir, 'S ag siúl mar iad i gcoinne námhad Seo libh, canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.


A bhuíon nách fann d'fhuil Ghaeil is Gall, Sin breacadh lae na saoirse, Ta scéimhle 's scanradh i gcroíthe namhad, Roimh ranna laochra ár dtire. Ár dtinte is tréith gan spréach anois, Sin luisne ghlé san spéir anoir, 'S an bíobha i raon na bpiléar agaibh: Seo libh, canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.


We'll sing a song, a soldier's song,
With cheering rousing chorus,
As round our blazing fires we throng,
The starry heavens o'er us;
Impatient for the coming fight,
And as we wait the morning's light,
Here in the silence of the night,
We'll chant a soldier's song. 

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 sire land Shall shelter the despot or the slave. Tonight we man the gap of danger In Erin's cause, come woe or weal 'Mid cannons' roar and rifles peal, We'll chant a soldier's song.

In valley green, on towering crag, Our fathers fought before us, And conquered 'neath the same old flag That's proudly floating o'er us. We're children of a fighting race, That never yet has known disgrace, And as we march, the foe to face, We'll chant a soldier's song.


Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale! The long watched day is breaking; The serried ranks of Inisfail Shall set the Tyrant quaking. Our camp fires now are burning low; See in the east a silv'ry glow, Out yonder waits the Saxon foe, So chant a soldier's song.


NOTE: In the English version of the chorus, the Gaelic bhearna bhaoil is sung instead of the English translation "gap of danger". The Gaelic is roughly pronounced "VAHR-na veel", which fits into the English rhyming scheme.