Irish Rugby: IRELAND’s CALL lyrics, meaning and origin

In the world of Irish Rugby, ‘Ireland’s Call’ has become an all-encompassing anthem; let’s take a look at the captivating lyrics we all know and love.

Irish Rugby: Ireland’s Call lyrics, meaning and origin.

Irish rugby has always held a special place in the hearts of its supporters. In true Irish style, sporting events unite the community during triumphant wins and tough losses.

Like many Irish sports, rugby has its traditions, and one such tradition is the song ‘Ireland’s Call’, a unique anthem which unites players and fans alike.

While ‘Ireland’s Call’ is not the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland, we will explore why singing the song before rugby matches is a tradition, the meaning and origin behind the tradition, and the captivating lyrics.

So, without further ado, let’s explore ‘Ireland’s Call’ – a cherished Irish tradition.

Ireland Before You Die’s interesting facts about Irish Rugby: 

  • The Irish rugby team has been a strong competitor in the Rugby World Cup, and their best years include 1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015, and 2019, when they reached the quarter-finals. 
  • In 2016, Ireland made history when they defeated the New Zealand All Blacks for the first time in over a century – a moment the nation will never forget.
  • Brian O’Driscoll is often hailed as one of the legends of Irish rugby, and he holds the record for the most caps of any player with a remarkable 133 caps. He scored 46 tries for Ireland during his career.
  • Ireland has won the Six Nations (or its predecessors) 15 times.
  • Irish Rugby home games are played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which is one of the top 10 must-visit sports venues in Ireland.

‘Ireland’s Call’ – the history and origin of the song

The song plays before rugby matches.

If you are a rugby supporter, you will be familiar with the tradition of ‘Ireland’s Call’. This anthem is sung to represent the island of Ireland, but do you know the history and origin of the song?

‘Ireland’s Call’ dates back to the 1990s when it was commissioned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) for the 1995 World Cup as a song that could be sung by both Northern Irish and Republican players, who together represented Ireland.

The use of Ireland’s official national anthem, ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ (‘The Soldier’s Song’), which has books which can teach the song to children and parents alike, was deemed inappropriate, and the new anthem, ‘Ireland’s Call’, was seen as a more inclusive way for players to come together in harmony.

Some all-Ireland sports governing bodies still use Ireland’s official national anthem, while others have followed the rugby example and adopted ‘Ireland’s Call’.

After the partition of Ireland, no flag or national anthem was put in place by the IRFU until the Irish national anthem was eventually sung at matches in the Irish Free State in the 1930s, while the tri-colour was showcased.

In addition, ‘God Save the King’, the national anthem of the United Kingdom, was to be sung at home matches in Northern Ireland, and no anthem was to be sung at all for away games.

Throughout the years, there has been controversy, complaints, and a sense of opposition regarding ‘Ireland’s Call’. However, many others have embraced it as a song of inclusivity.

So, what is the meaning behind the song?

A cherished tradition – the meaning behind ‘Ireland’s Call’

Irish Rugby: Ireland’s Call lyrics, meaning and origin.

‘Ireland’s Call’ was written by renowned singer-songwriter Phil Coulter, who sang ‘The Town I Loved So Well’, one of the best songs about the Troubles, in 1995 to encompass the island of Ireland and allow players of all backgrounds to sing this anthem together before a match.

Coulter, who has written songs for Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, is said to have composed the song because he loved hearing various Irish accents singing together, which is the song’s essence.

This unifying anthem, typical for any rugby fan to hear, has more than one verse; in fact, it has three verses, yet only the first verse is sung at matches before the band changes the key for the chorus, which is repeated once.

The song has a deep sense of inclusivity, which is apparent in the lyrical reference to the “four proud provinces” of Ireland: Ulster, Munster, Connacht, and Leinster.

‘Ireland’s Call’ lyrics – words of Inclusivity 

Irelands Call is well known for its striking lyrics, which captivate players and fans, bringing the rugby community together regardless of their backgrounds.

Let’s take a look:

Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer our country’s call
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.
Ireland, Ireland, together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call.
From the mighty glens of Antrim
From the rugged hills of Galway
From the walls of Limerick and Dublin Bay
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.
Hearts of steel and heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight until we can fight no more
For the four proud provinces of Ireland.
Erin’s warriors, clad in emerald
Steadfast souls confront their challenge
‘Neath the glass sky they assemble
For the four proud provinces of Ireland.

This song, unlike many other anthems, doesn’t feature military wording or political undertones in a bid to steer away from military struggles. The lyrics, “We will fight until we can fight no more”, concern the sport in question as opposed to war.

As we can see, these captivating lyrics bring about a sense of togetherness, and it has evolved to become an anthem many people are proud to sing.

Notable mentions

  • The lyrics of ‘Ireland’s Call’ reflect the bond between players and the commitment to standing united as representatives of Ireland.
  • ‘The Rose of Tralee’ was used as the Irish anthem during the 1987 Rugby World Cup following an atrocity that injured players who were to represent Ireland.
  • ‘Ireland’s Call’ has become integral to the Irish rugby experience and creates an electric atmosphere during international matches.
  • Rugby is one of the few sports with players from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland competing on the same team. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis.

Your questions answered about ‘Ireland’s Call’

In this section, we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about ‘Ireland’s Call’.

The national rugby team plays at the Aviva Stadium.
Credit: Flickr/ wynnert

Why do some Irish rugby players not sing ‘Ireland’s Call’?

While it is a personal choice to sing or not sing the anthem, some players prefer to run through a mental routine and stay focused before the match.

Why do the Irish sing two anthems?

Rugby is one of the few sports encompassing players from every corner of the country. It represents Ireland together. So ‘Ireland’s Call’ takes the place of the national anthem to foster unity.

Who wrote the song ‘Ireland’s Call’?

Renowned Derry singer-songwriter Phil Coulter composed this anthem.

Which other sports use ‘Ireland’s Call’?

Other teams that have adopted ‘Ireland’s Call’ as an anthem in recognition of the need for unity are the Ireland cricket team, the hockey team, and the korfball team. It’s not just a rugby anthem. It bridges national divides in a number of sports.

As we can see, ‘Ireland’s Call’ is a long-standing tradition in Irish Rugby, which evokes emotions and brings players and fans from all backgrounds together.

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