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The Wearing of the Green
Contents:


  1. Post navigation
  2. Collection of Irish Song Lyrics
  3. Sheet Music to the tune of "The Wearing of the Green"
  4. Antiwar Songs (AWS) - The Wearing Of The Green

It came to be seen as symbol of Ireland and by extension, a symbol of Irish nationalism and independence.

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In the early 18th century, Irish patriots started wearing green ribbons to show their support for Irish nationalism. Towards the end of the 18th century, the rebel organisation, the United Irishmen adopted green as their official colour as they planned their insurrection against British rule.


  • Wearing of the Green – symbol of Irish nationalism.
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  • Wearing of the Green - Irish nationalist song.

The British authorities were keen to stamp out displays of Irish identity and independence such as the Irish language. Soon, they came to see the colour green as a dangerous symbol that could rally Irish nationalist fervour. They banned people from wearing green as an open symbol of their Irish identity.

Collection of Irish Song Lyrics

The song The Wearing of the Green captures both those emotions perfectly. The aim is to mock the British for thinking they could pass a law that would stop shamrock growing or green appearing. Though ridiculous, the ban is dangerous because the British were prepared to be brutal to enforce it. Napper Tandy who is referred to in the song, was an Irish rebel leader at the time of the Rebellion.

He was exiled following the failure of the rebellion and died in France in McGinty and Carlin represent Derry.


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But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart, Our sons with shame and sorrow from this dear old isle will part; I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day. O Erin, must we leave you driven by a tyrant's hand?

Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?

Sheet Music to the tune of "The Wearing of the Green"

Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen, And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearing of the green! Dion Boucicault was, despite his French name, an Irishman born in Dublin, a playwright. At the time, inspired by America's successful revolution against British rule, many Irish thought the time was ripe for independence. The colour green became a symbol of sympathy for Irish independence, and the British actually began executing persons found wearing anything of the colour green.

The pen, however, is mightier than the sword, and this powerful poem was the response. Napper Tandy, mentioned in the poem, was in fact a shopkeeper in Dublin who, having been identified by the British as a freedom fighter, had to flee to France.

Antiwar Songs (AWS) - The Wearing Of The Green

And Boucicault himself fled the country, coming to America as the words of his poem itself echo prophetic. Boucicault did not stop writing plays, poetry and music on his arrival in New York. One of his better-known works, written over a century ago, is the well-known song, Sidewalks of New York.