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Marching Song of the Irish Volunteers by Thomas MacDonagh

The Marching Song of the Irish Volunteers was written by Thomas MacDonagh, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

The song pledges that each man will fight for Ireland’s freedom. It refers to invasions in the past involving the Vikings and the Normans, and points out that these invaders have become assimilated. They are now Irish and ready to fight to repel the foreign powers.

The Irish Volunteers were set up in 1913 by nationalists including Eoin MacNeill and the O’Rahilly. They provided most of the troops in the Easter Rising.

These are the full lyrics

Greater than word in any age
The care of God for Ireland still:
Under His guidance we engage
For Ireland now to work His will.
We have no hate for Irishman;
We love our land from sea to sea;
And heed no mark of creed or clan
Ireland we claim, and Ireland free.

For Ireland, for Ireland, for Ireland all,
Our ranks we band in might:
From her four seas we at Ireland’s call
In Ireland’s cause unite,
And march to the hosting of Gael and Gall,
To claim our Freedom’s right.

When in the morn of time the Gael
Saw Ireland rising o’er the foam,
He left his labouring oars to hail
This lovely land, his destined home:
He loved this island’s ancient grace,
And here in glory long he throve:
His children’s Gaelic pride of race
Hallows the island of their love.
For Ireland, for Ireland…

A thousand years ago the Dane
With raven banner swept the seas:
To win this land he sought in vain;
Then left the ways of war for peace:
Tired of wayfaring here he found
The welcome due to valiant foe:
The Viking stock on Irish ground
Has grown and strongly still shall grow.
For Ireland, for Ireland…

The Norman came in evil hour,
When Ireland’s passion had begun:
And matched against an empire’s power
The clans were broken one by one;
But yielded not, and to this day
Unconquered stand and wait the word:
The Norman took the Danish way,
And Ireland’s is the Norman sword.
For Ireland, for Ireland…

The clans were broken but to weld
Into one mighty Irish strength:
The Dane and Norman force were held
To build the Irish race at length.
We Gael, we Dane, we Norman, now
Have heard the word we waited long:
In arms we come and take this vow
To make our country free and strong.
For Ireland, for Ireland . . .

The Irish race, united, new,
The youngest nation of the earth,
Shall to the elder race be true,
And guard the glory of our birth:
Never for gain of praise or gold
Our race has sold the sacred gift:
Unsullied still our right we hold,
And Freedom’s flag unstained we lift.
For Ireland, for Ireland . .

Our fathers who foresaw the noon
Unfurled this flag before the dawn:
Its fringes caught the light, but soon
Back to the darkness it was drawn.
The dawn is come, the night is o’er:
With joy we face the future years;
And now in Freedom’s cause once more
Arise the Irish Volunteers.
For Ireland, for Ireland . .

O sacred light of Liberty!
O Nation hallowed by thy cause!
We hail the glorious destiny
That comes with right of native laws.
O God, our Comfort in the night,
Be still our Guardian in the day,
And lead Thy people in Thy sight
To follow still Thine ancient way!
For Ireland, for Ireland . . .

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These lyrics are taken from The Irish Review (Dublin), Vol. 3, No. 34 (Dec, 1913) pp. 500.

Thomas MacDonagh was executed on 3 May 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising.


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