It’s hard to imagine that any group of people have written about their homeland more than the Irish.
Possibly it’s because so many of them had to leave it to escape hunger, poverty, oppression…or simply to seek a better life elsewhere.
Whatever the reason, there are countless verses about Ireland and Irishness. Some are unashamedly sentimental, others convey the thoughts of prominent figures like W B Yeats, James Joyce and Thomas Osborne Davis.
All illustrate the pull that Ireland has on so many of its citizens and on the descendants of emigrants who left Ireland over the last two centuries. Many of those descendants return to Ireland for once in a lifetime holidays, or explore their heritage using Irish genealogy services.
Many will be able to remember older relatives quoting a line or two from the verses listed below.
Sons And Daughters Of Hibernia (Ireland)
We are the sons and daughters of Hibernia proud heirs of an ancient legacy.
We’ve settled every corner of the globe, driven from our homeland by famine and oppression or simply by the restless spirit that’s our birthright.
Wherever we go, we bring with us a love of freedom, a melancholy humour, a biting wit and a golden tongue. But regardless of where destiny may take us,
We’re linked to the land of our ancestors by an ethereal thread that binds the heart and reminds us always that we are a unique people. We Are The Irish.
William Drennan is credited with being the first person on record to have referred to Ireland as the Emerald Isle. He used the phrase in his poem, When Erin First Rose.
My Land is a poem about Ireland written by nationalist writer Thomas Osborne Davis. He lived in the 19th century when the people of Ireland were suffering terrible poverty under the British rule.
Osborne Davis was a close ally of Daniel O’Connell, and was also one of the founding members of the Young Ireland movement. Read the whole poem here
Under Ben Bulben was written by WB Yeats as he prepared for his own death. Yeats accepts that all things, including his own life, come to an end.
The overall theme of Under Ben Bulben is of Yeats accepting his life will end but without sadness as he prepares to be accepted into Heaven.
A Mother’s Love is a Blessing
An Irish boy was leaving
Leaving his native home
Crossing the broad Atlantic
Once more he wished to roam.
And as he was leaving his mother
Who was standing on the quay
She threw her arms around his waist
And this to him did say.
“A mother’s love is a blessing
No matter where you roam
Keep her while she’s living
You’ll miss her when she’s gone.”
Thomas P Keenan
Song for Ireland was a major success on the Irish folk circuit when it first appeared in the early 1980s. It’s a celebration of Ireland and has come to be seen as a kind of anthem for the country, its culture and its people. It therefore comes as a surprise to many people to discover that it was written by a couple from Staffordshire in England.
See more about this great song plus a link to videos and lyrics and chords.