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1916 The Soldiers Song, Lyrics and Musical Score



Peadar Kearney Ballykinlar Camp, Co. Down Irish War of Independence


About this item

Copy of ‘The Soldiers Song’ with words by Peadar Kearney, musical score by Patrick Heeney and arranged by Cathal MacDubhgaill. The front page image is a copy of the original Whelan and Son 1916 print edition but does not contain the price or label.

The song later becoming the Irish National Anthem contains lyrics by Peadar Kearney and music by Patrick Heeney was composed between 1909 and 1911. At this time Kearney had joined The Abbey Theatre working on props where he met Heeney.

The song was translated into Irish by Liam Ó Rinn. While the song has three verses only the chorus is used as the Irish National Anthem.

Kearney was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood as early as 1903 and became a member of its Supreme Council. He was a founding member of the Irish volunteers and the song was popular among Irish Volunteers while marching. It was first sung at a Volunteer fundraising event. In 1916 Whelan and Son published the lyrics for sale as a flysheet making the lyrics and tune widely accessible.

In 1916 Peadar Kearney fought with Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory. While he evaded capture in 1916 he was arrested during the War of Independence and interned at Ballykinlar Camp, County Down during 1920 to 1921.

It was sung in the General Post Office (GPO) during the Easter Rising of 1916 and continued in use in the aftermath of the Rising by those interned particularly at the Frongoch internment camp.

On 12 July 1926, the Executive Council decided to adopt it as the National Anthem.

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