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Updated 04/29/2013


God Save Ireland

God Save Ireland was the unofficial national anthem of the Irish Republic and the Irish Free State from 1919 to 1926, when it was displaced by the official Amhrán na bhFiann.

The song was written by Timothy Daniel Sullivan in 1867, and first published December 7th 1867, inspired by Edmund O'Meager Condon's speech on the Manchester Docks. When the three Manchester Martyrs (Michael Larkin, William Phillip Allen, and Michael O'Brien) were executed, the song was adopted as the Fenian movement's anthem.

Timothy Daniel Sullivan (29 May 1827 - 31 March 1914) (shown above) was an Irish nationalist, journalist, politician and poet. He was the brother of Alexander Martin Sullivan, also a journalist and politician. He was born at Bantry, County Cork.

He was a member of the Home Rule League, supporting Charles Stewart Parnell in the 1880 general election, being "convinced that without self-government there could never be peace, prosperity or contentment in Ireland". He joined the Irish Parliamentary Party when it was established in 1882. When the party split in 1891 he became an Anti-Parnellite until the Nationalist factions were reunited in 1900.

Sullivan represented a number of constituencies in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He was elected from Westmeath in 1880 and served until 1885. He then became the first MP from Dublin College Green until he was defeated by a Pro-Parnellite in the 1892 general election. Four days later he was returned unopposed for West Donegal which he represented until he retired in 1900.

He owned and edited a number of publications (The Nation, Dublin Weekly News and Young Ireland). In December 1887 he published reports of meetings by the National League. As a result he was convicted and imprisoned for two months under the Crimes Act.

Sullivan also wrote the adopted anthem of the All-for Ireland League: "All for Ireland ! One for all !. He was Lord Mayor of Dublin for 1886 and 1887.

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 some years he was not welcome in Great Britain because of this.

Workers during the Dublin Lockout of 1913 adapted the lyrics to "God Save Jim Larkin", after the union leader. It was, perhaps, most famously recorded by the Go Lucky Four on their 1966 album, Irish Capers. Later the song was sung at soccer matches by fans of the Republic of Ireland team, and by those of Glasgow Celtic. The latter inspired Ally's Tartan Army, the unofficial anthem of Scotland in the 1978 World Cup; this song was itself reworked as Put 'Em Under Pressure, an unofficial anthem of the Irish team at the 1990 tournament.

Lyrics by Timothy Sullivan

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 battlefield we die,
O, what matter when
Erin dear we fall!"

Girt around with cruel foes,
Still their courage 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.


Climbed they up the rugged stair,
Rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England's fatal cord around them cast,
Close beside the gallows tree
Kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last.


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 and weal and woe,
Till we make our Isle a nation free and grand.