Thomas OSBORNE Davis, founder of the Young Ireland movement, wrote what is perhaps the most famous patriotic ballad of Ireland. A Nation Once Again was published in The Nation newspaper 175 years ago on the 13th of July 1844.
Davis was a native of Mallow Co. Cork, and, as a romantic Irish bard, he penned many a ballad and poem such as The West’s Asleep and A Nation Once Again which, upon publication, became an instant favourite with the Young Ireland movement.
The song is drenched in the cultural romantic style of the 19th century which sees the narrator dreaming of his land becoming a free nation, but it also served as a rallying call for people to fight for that free nation.
Davis took the melody from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.
Thomas Davis studied the Greek and Roman classics and it is reflected in A Nation Once Again. An example lies in the famous line “three hundred men and three men” which refers to the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC which pitted the Greeks against the Persians. The 300 men were the 300 Spartans who held off the might of the Persians.