The Soldier's Song

The national anthem of Ireland is The Soldier's Song with words written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, who was an uncle of Brendan Behan, with music provided by Patrick Heeney. It was composed in 1907, not as an anthem, but as a march. For this reason, it is most effectively played by a military band, rather than a symphony orchestra, even though orchestral arrangements have become popular in recent years.

Like the tricolor, the popularity of The Soldier's Song dates from the Easter Rising in 1916. After the insurrection, the Volunteers, who were detained in British Detention Camps, used it to voice their defiance to their captors; it was quickly taken up in Ireland to express the same sentiment.

In a short time, The Soldier's Song took the place of the two other pieces: God Save Ireland, A Fenian song written about the last words of the Manchester Martyrs, and set to an American march; and Thomas Davis' stirring masterpiece A Nation Once Again - both had been used from time to time as an informal national anthem. The Soldier's Song became the national anthem by government decree in July, 1926.

By Mike McCormack, National Historian
The phrase Bhearna Bhoil, in the Irish language, means the Gap of Danger, and refers to a battle in the rising of 1798, when John Kelly, the Boy from Killan, led a charge against the Bewley Gates in the seige of New Ross. The carnage at that location earned it the title Bhearna Bhaoil, and it became a symbol of the danger that Ireland's sons were willing to face for her freedom. Even when The Soldier's Song is translated into other languages, the term Bhearna Baoil remains in the Irish.

The Soldier's Song is truly a song that was meant to be sung in the Irish language, rather than in the language of the English. The Irish version Amhran na bhFiann is in popular use today, and perhaps the most stirring vocal renditions occur in Croke Park, Dublin, during the Annual All Ireland Hurling and Football finals each September, when eighty thousand people join in the singing, led by the Artane Boys Band. This is clearly the way it was meant to be sung.

Now, you too can learn this beautiful song, the way it was meant to be sung. Accompanying this writeup is a copy of the first verse and chorus of The Soldier's Song, printed in the Native Irish (bold type), in phonetic presentation(italic type) as an aid to pronunciation, and in the American translation(standard type) for relation. Try it, and see if you can learn it. Enjoy this part of our heritage, and feel good about being Irish.

(The Soldier's Song)
words by Peadar Kearney
music by Patrick Heeney

Seo dhaoibh a chairde, duan oglaigh, caithreimeach briomhar ceomhar;
Shuh yeev a care-juh doo-on oh-glee, cah ray-mach breewar kyolwar;
We'll sing a song, a Soldier's Song. with cheering rousing chorus;

ar dtinte cnamh go buacach (a)taid, is an spier go min realtogach;
awr deen-te cnawv guh boo-ca tawdj, iss an spare guh min rail-toe-guch
as round our blazing fires we throng, the starry heavens o'er us;

is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo, 's go tiunmhar gle roimh thiocht don lo;
iss funn-war fayv-roch shin khun glyoe, s guh kyuen-war glay riv hee-ucht dun low;
impatient for the coming fight,  And as we wait the mornjng's light,

Fe chiunas chaomh na hoichie ar seol, Seo libh canaidh Amhran na bhFiann

Here in the silence of the night, We'll chant a soldier's song


Sinne Fianna Fail,   ata   faoi gheall ag Eirinn;
Sheena Feena Fal,  a-taw  fay yal egg air-in;
Soldiers are we,  whose lives are pledged to Ireland;

buion d'ar slua thar toinn do rainigh chugainn. Faoi mhoid bheith saor,
bween dor slooa har tin  duh raw-nig hoo-een.  Fwee voedj veh sayr,
some have come from a land beyond the wave,  Sworn to be free,

sean-tir  ar  sinnsear feasta,   ni   fhagfar faoin   tioran   na   faoin traill;
shan teer are  shin-sher fas-ta,  nee fawg-ferr fween tee-rawn  naw  fween  troyl,
no more our   ancient   sire land,  shall  shelter  the  despot  or  the  slave,

Anocht a theam sa bhearna bhaoil, le gean ar Ghaeil chun bas no saoil;
ah-nocht ah hay-im sah  varina vweel,  le gyan err Gwail khun boss no sayl;
to-night we man  the Bearna Bwail, in Erin's cause, come woe or wail;

le  gunna  screach  faoi lamhach na bpilear, seo libh canaig Amhran na bhFiann.
le gon-nuh shkrayk fay  lawch  na bill-air,  shuh liv kah-nig Aw-rawn na bhFiann
mid cannon's roar  and   rifle's  peal,   we'll  chant   a   Soldier's Song

Cois banta reidhe, ar ardaibh sleibhe, Ba bhuachach ar sinsir rohmhainn

In valley green, on towering crag, Our fathers fought before us

Ag lamhach go trean fen sar-bhrat sein, Ta thuas sa ghaoith go seolta

And conquered 'neath the same old flag, That's proudly floating o'er us

Ba dhuchas riamph d'ar gcine chaidh, Gan iompail siar o imirt air

We're children of a fighting race, That's never yet has known disgrace

S ag siul mar iadi gcinne namhad, Seo libh, canaidh Amhran na bbFiann

And as we march, the foe we face, We'll chant a Soldier's song


A bhuion nach fann d'fhuil Ghaeil is Gall, Sin breacadh lae na saoirse

Sons of the Gael! men of the Pale!, The lng watched day is breaking

Ta sceimhle scanradh i geroiyhe namhad, Roimh ranna laochra ar dtire

The serried ranks of Inisfail, Shall set the Tyrant quaking

Ar dtinte is treith gan spreach anois, Sin huisne ghle san speir anoir

Our camp fires are now burning low, See in the east a silv'ry glow

S an biobha i raon na bpilear agaibh, Seo libh, canaidh Amhran na bhFiann

Out yonder waits the Saxon foe, so chant a soldier's song


1st verse
2nd verse
3rd verse