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Peadar Kearney “The Soldiers Song”



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


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In 1916 Peadar Kearney (1883-1942) was a member of the Supreme Council of the Irish Volunteers and served under Thomas MacDonagh, at Jacobs Biscuit Factory, during the 1916 Easter Rising.

During 1917 the rise in popularity of ‘The Soldiers Song’ it caught the attention of the British and British soldiers began to parody its lyrics. Copies were confiscated by British security forces as an incitement to rebel.

In the 1917 East Clare by-election Éamonn deValera showcased a large banner featuring the first two lines of the song. Allying with Éamonn deValera and Sinn Féin the Irish Volunteers evolved into the Irish Republican Army during the course of the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921).

The song was referred to as the “Sinn Féin Anthem” and it became well known to the diaspora, in particular the Irish Americans.

Having evaded capture in the aftermath of the Rising Peadar Kearney was arrested and interned at Ballykinlar Camp, County Down during the War of Independence.

During the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) the IRA split into the “National army” and the “Irregulars”. The former on the side of the Irish Free State and the latter remaining loyal to the idea of an Irish Republic. Both sides continued to use “The Soldiers Song”.

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 as “Amhrán na bhFiann”. On 12 July 1926, the Executive Council decided to adopt it as the National Anthem.

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