Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The phoenetic Irish National Anthem

Watching the start of the Dublin vs Tyrone game on Saturday, it was commented that it's unlikely you'd be able to join in singing the national anthem if you hadn't grown up in Ireland.

So, for people who just want to sing along in the pub, at the start of sporting events or at the end of weddings and discos (if they still do that?), here is the chorus of Amhrán na bhFiann (Aw-rawn na Veen) in a very simplified phoenetic form.

Sinne Fianna Fáil
Sheen-na fee-na fall
Atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn
A-taw fwee yall egg Ay-rin

Buíon dár slua

Bween dar slewa

Thar toinn do ráinig chughainn
Har tin duh raw-nig coo-in

Faoi mhóid bheith saor

Fway vode veyh sa-ir

Sean-tír ár sinsear feasta
Shann-teer ahr shin-shir faw-sta

Ní fhágfar faoin tiorán ná faoin tráill

Nee awg-fur fwane teer-awn naw fwane trawl

Anocht a théam sa bhearna baoil
A-nukt a hame sa varna vwail

Le gean ar Ghaeil chun báis nó saoil

Lay gyan ahr gale cunn bawsh no sail

Le gunna scréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar

Lay gunna schrake, fway law vock nah bill-air

Seo libh canaig Amhrán na bhFiann
Shuh liv conn-ig arawn naveen

Here's the music to have a practise, played by the Army Band.

Amhrán na bhFiann (or The Soldier's Song) was formally adopted as the national anthem in 1926. It was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, an uncle of Brendan Behan and first published in 1912. It wasn't widely known until it was sung at the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising.

Full official lyrics as Gaeilge and in English can be found here.

(* You may want to add "C'mon the Cats" or "Up Kilkenny" or some such phrase at the end. That's the way I was taught it anyhow ;o) Please note also, because I learned it in South Eastern Gaeilge, some pronunciations may vary.)

Hope that helps!


  1. Funny how you get those inconsistencies, I pronounce that last comment "G'wan the Royals"...

  2. @Gav - hehe. Do you get much of a chance to do that these days? :-P

    Thanks for the comment, sir! :)

  3. I just realised our national anthem is kinda fucked up. We berate other nations for their militaristic fetishism yet here we are singing about soldiers and fighting and martyrdom!

    Surely something a little jollier should be in order?

  4. With meattrack on the tone but at least it is better than Ireland's Call

  5. Thanks Darragh.

    At 61 years of age the phoenetic version makes more sense to me than the original one. OK, so I was slow at Irish in my school days, but we just mumbled and mouthed along with everyone else. It was taken for granted that we knew what it was all about.

    Nobody, but nobody EVER explained or translated it for me. If I asked, I got the brush off. Maybe that is why I dislike all things to do with the Irish language, music and dancing. Pity really, since I go out of my way to sell 'Ireland' north and south to tourists

  6. We had to say the anthem at school for some reason once and the teacher handed out the phonetic one instead of the real one.

  7. I beg your pardon Mr Doyle, C'mon the Royals is a very well used phrase ;-).

    I still remember a song that was out years ago while I was in school, somethign along the lines of' C'mon the Royals, C'mon Meath bhoys' blah blah blah blah, actually I only remember the fist 6words!!! hehehe

  8. I always got the second last line wrong. Nice one.

  9. funny that.....I always remember the last line being "c'mon Tyrone"

  10. i'm at work so cant listen, but will be back tonight! easy to see how tolkien used your language as part of his Sindarin elvish :)

  11. At school we always used to sing the last line as "shoving Connie around the field!"

  12. Excellent! Thanks D. I should be ashamed of myself trying to learn my national anthem in this manner.

  13. Growing up in the Gaeltacht of Donegal, and having attended plenty of night clubs in younger days where at the end we always got to practice singing it I can now sing this with proper Irish - its a bit differently pronounced in places from the auld text book Dublin Oirish though and the last comment is always "Come on Donegal" :)

    *returns to polishing halo*

  14. Dublin Oirish is the best kind ;) And @ David...Come the day and come the hour...hehehe

  15. Thanks for the comments people. Or should I say Guh rev meeela moth a gut?

    @offthemeatrack - jollier, you say? Hmmm. Somehow I think there's bugger all to be jolly about these days. At least with this one we can relive past "glories" where what was wrong was all someone else's fault...

    @David - well, Ireland's call is VERY inclusive like. The problem is, what is this "call" that we've come to answer?

    @grannymar - most welcome my dear! The translation *is* important, as is the story behind it and what it tells. All songs are that way for me, though sometimes I take different meanings and end up surprised...

    @b - an inspector perhaps? We used to have to sing songs from the back of the religion books.

    @Mary - That may be in Meath - haven't heard it said around Croker in AGES! :o)

    @Anthony - most welcome squire

    @Manuel - weird isn't it? However that is the version I'll be singing for the Football final. I haven't seen mastery like that in years. Well deserved win.

    @donna_m - it is indeed. Sure we're always tolkein over here. (okay I'm sorry, I'm sorry)

    @Annie - LOL! Comment of the week!

    @Lottie - thanks, but hey, at least you're learning it, right?

    @Stel - thanks for the comment! Donegal Irish can be pretty impenetrable alright, but it's not that different at 3 am standing in a nightclub I'll bet. Let's face it, that's the only place you'll hear "Come on Donegal" at the end :o)

    @MJ - it's a peculiar beast alright is the ould Dublin Irish. I don't hear it spoken that much here by Dubs though...

  16. It's amazing that people don't know it in English especially as it was written in English.
    I think it should be sung in the original English so every can understand this wonderful song and that even in our national anthem we were a nation who embraced brothers from abroad.
    It is a song that represents hope and pride and it's incredibly powerful when people understand it.

    I always sing it in English as I think understanding is more important.

  17. great post, thanks, i've been looking for something like this! -peter h.

  18. I really appreciate the post. My mother tried to teach me both Scots and Irish Gaelic at the same time when I was a teenager. Confused was an under statement. Trying to remember which rels spoke which was another excuse for family disturbance.

    Odd how I read in the comments that some were taught Gaelic in school when my mother said it was prohibited where she when to what we call in the states High School. It was sort of a family secret if you learned the language at home. Never to speak it outside.

  19. Thanks for doing this. It's interesting to see it phoneticized - there are a lot of versions of it on You Tube and the regional accents vary widely.

    I hope you have the time to do it with other traditional songs - like Oro Se De Bheatha Ghaile -sometime. Loved hearing it on the soundtrack of The Wind That Shakes the Barley and heard it recently done by The Fuschia Band from Cork.