From The United Irishman, August 31, 1901.

“The choir,” said Mr. Fournier at the Pan-Celtic concert, “will sing the Irish National Anthem, “Let Erin Remember.”

I smiled to hear that beautiful song of despair described as Ireland’s National Anthem, and then I bethought myself, what is Ireland’s National Anthem? And my mind was troubled. I turned to the Gaelic Leaguer and asked him.

“Go Maridh ar nGaedhilig Slan,” he answered quickly.

“No,” said a Cumann na nGaedheal brother of mine, “’tis A Nation Once Again.”

“You are both wrong,” quoth another of Cumann na Gaedheal, “it is The Memory of the Dead.”

So perplexed I went forth and met a man in the street and asked him. “God Save Ireland,” said he, gazing on me with wild surprise.

“Here, then,” thought I, “are five Irishmen who hold different opinions on a simple subject. ‘Let Erin Remember’ – yes, but a National Anthem should be a song of hope, not merely of remembrance. ‘Go Maridh ar nGaedhilig Slan’ – ay, a thousand healths to our language, but there are other things in Nationality besides language. ‘A Nation Once Again’ – surely, we are a nation still – an oppressed, degraded, distracted, and sickly nation, but still a nation. ‘The Memory of the Dead’ – a noble song – when we forget the men who died to save us, may our right hands be forgotten – but a song of one day in our history, the day of the matchless Tone and chivalrous Lord Edward and sainted Emmet, but still only one day. ‘God Save Ireland’ – a tocsin that roused us in our despair, but like the other, the song of a day. What, then, is our National Anthem?”

Truly, we have none. I mind me of a time when I was a little fellow and listened to a strange, fierce, old woman, some of whose blood is in my veins – a very old, old woman who saw the dogs of Thomas-street lap up a martyr’s blood – listened to this old woman while she sang a song she heard often in her father’s house sung by men who died on the scaffold or fell in the field, rotted in the dungeons or perished across the sea. I can see her yet sitting in her rocking-chair with her little hands crossed in her lap and a glint of godlike fire in her aged eyes, singing:

When Erin first rose from the dark-swelling flood
God blessed the green island, He knew it was good,
The emerald of Europe, it sparkled and shone
In the ring of the world the most precious stone,
In her name, in her fame, in her station thrice blessed,
With her back towards Britain, her face to the West,
Erin stands proudly insular, on her steep shore,
And strikes her high harp to the ocean’s deep roar.

Oh, sons of green Erin! Lament o’er the time
When religion was war and our country a crime,
When man, of God’s image, inverted the plan,
And moulded his God in the image of man!
By the groans that ascend from your forefathers’ graves,
For their country, left only to tyrants and salves,
Drive the demon of bigotry home to his den,
And where Britain made monsters let Erin make men.

The cause it is good and the men they are true,
And the Green shall outlive both the Orange and Blue,
And the triumph of Erin her daughters shall share,
Will the full swelling bosom, and fair flowing hair;
Their bosom heaves high for the worthy and brave,
But no coward shall rest in that soft-swelling wave,
Men of Erin, awake! And make haste to be blessed,
Rise, Arch of the Ocean and Queen of the West.

Peace to her soul. Since she died I have never heard that song of the United Men, which many a gallant Irish Catholic and many a gallant Irish Protestant walked to death singing, save in the rooms of the Celtic Literary Society. Years ago, that brave old Irishman, Sir Robert Stewart, arranged the music for us, and sent it to us. He loved it well, as he loved everything that was manly and Irish.

Young Ireland had many splendid National songs. It had Davis’s “Green above the Red,” “Clare’s Dragoons,” and Barry’s “Green Flag” and “Step Together,” and Frazer’s “Song for July the Twelfth,” and Walsh’s “War Song,” and McCann’s “O’Donnell Abu!” and Pigott’s “Up for the Green.” But Davis’s “Celt and Saxon,” Mangan’s “Irish National Song,” and O’Hagan’s “Paddies Evermore” are nearer to the anthem than any other of the Young Ireland songs. Fenianism did not bring us the National anthem, but it gave us some stirring National songs, and one excellent poem, “The Question,” and since Fenianism we have had many bad poets, some indifferent poets, a few good poets, and one great poet, but none of them has writ Ireland’s National anthem.

The Irish National anthem must be written in Irish, but there is no Irish Rouget d’Lisle, nor hope of one. It must be the anthem of Ireland – not of Ireland’s language nor Ireland’s sects nor Ireland’s clans – but of Ireland – her hopes, her loves, her aspirations. It must be no pretty trifle with which the tyrant can join with his slave in singing, but a something virile and bloodful, haughty and defiant, something that will shout to the Englishman as Gaul did to Caesar, “Defiance, tyranny, while I have strength to hurl it!” It must be, in short, a song to make men – a song meet for men. We have no such song in Irish, but temporarily we may find something like what we need in English – something that will make us recollect we are Irishmen, and:

Sink the tale of Gall and Gael,
That cursed our fathers’ day.

Such a song, I believe I know. ‘Tis a song to a tune Irish of the Irish, near akin to “Irish Molly O,” and easy of singing – ‘tis a song roughly written, lacking much of poetry and finish, but strong, brave, resolute and defiantly Irish – something to put a manly soul into who so sings and whosoever listens: –

The hour is past to fawn or crouch;
As suppliants for our right;
Let word and deed unshrinking vouch
The banded millions’ might;
Let those who scorned the fountain rill
Now dread the torrent’s roar
And hear our echoing chorus still,
We’re Paddies evermore.

What, thought they menace? Suffering, men
Their threats and them despise;
Or promise justice once again?
We know their words are lies;
We stand resolved those rights to gain
They robbed us of before,
Our own dear nation and our name,
As Paddies evermore.

Look round – the Frenchman governs France,
The Spaniard rules in Spain,
The gallant Pole but waits his chance
To break the Russian chain;
The strife for freedom here begun
We never will give o’er,
Nor own a land on earth but one –
We’re Paddies evermore

What recked we though seven hundred years
Have o’er our thraldom rolled?
That soul that roused O’Connor’s spears
Still lives as true and bold.
The tide of foreign power to stem
Our fathers bled of yore;
And we stand here today, like them,
True Paddies evermore.

Where’s our allegiance? With the land
For which they nobly died;
Our duty? By our cause to stand,
Whatever chance betide;
Our cherished hope? To heal the woes
That rankle at her core;
Our scorn and hatred? To her foes,
Like Paddies evermore.

The hour is past to fawn or crouch
As suppliants for our right;
Let word and deed unshrinking vouch
The banded millions’ might;
Let those who scorned the fountain rill,
Now dread the torrent’s roar,
And hear our echoing chorus still,
We’re Paddies evermore.

Perchance some reader may know a better and braver song, and if so let him tell us, for until the coming of our Rouget d’Lisle we must even do the best we can with the material to our hand.