Erin Go Bragh
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Erin go Bragh, sometimes Erin go Braugh, is the anglicisation of an Irish language phrase, Éirinn go Brách, and is used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as “Ireland Forever”.
Erin go Bragh is an English corruption of the phrase Éirinn go Brách in the Irish language. The standardized spelling in Irish is Éire go Brách, which is pronounced [ˈeːrʲə ɡə brɑːx]. However, Éirinn (which survives as the dative form in the modern standard) is a historic form used instead of Éire in two dialects; this is the source of the anglicised Erin. In all other dialects the distinction between the nominative accusative Éire and the dative Éirinn is kept distinct. This linguistic shift (dative forms replacing nominative) is common among Irish nouns of the second and fifth declensions. The term brách is equivalent to “eternity” or “end of time”, meaning the phrase may be translated literally as “Ireland until eternity” or “Ireland until the end (of time)”. Éire go Bráth (or Éirinn go Bráth) is also used in Irish and means the same thing. Go is a preposition, translatable as to, till/until, up to.
In time, the phrase became anglicised. By 1847, it was already in use as “Erin Go Bragh”. That year, a group of Irish volunteers, including U.S. Army deserters, joined the Mexican side in the Mexican American War. These soldiers, known as Los San Patricios or Saint Patrick's Battalion, flew as their standard a green flag with a harp on it, with the motto “Erin Go Bragh” underneath. Variations on this flag design have been used at different times to express Irish nationalism.
In 1862, when a large number of families on the estate of Lord Digby, near Tullamore, County Offaly, were given notice to quit, a local priest, Father Paddy Dunne, arranged passage for 400 people to Australia. A ship was chartered from the Black Ball Line and named the Erin-go-Bragh. The voyage of the Erin-go-Bragh, a “crazy, leaky tub”, took 196 days, the longest recorded passage to Australia. A passenger nicknamed the ship the “Erin go Slow”. It landed in Moreton Bay near Brisbane.
At the height of decades of negotiation regarding home rule in Ireland, in the late 19th century the Irish Unionist Party used the slogan on a banner at one of their conventions, expressing their pride in Irish identity.
In the late 19th century, the Edinburgh football club Hibernian F.C. adopted “Erin Go Bragh” as their motto and it adorned their shirts accordingly. Founded in 1875 by Edinburgh Irishmen and the local Catholic Church, St Patrick's, the club's shirts included a gold harp set on a green background. The flag can still be seen at a lot of Hibernian matches to this day. In 1887 a gaelic games club was set up in Clonsilla, Dublin under the name Erin go Bragh GAA. There is also an “Erin go Bragh GAA” club in Warwickshire, England. In 1906, three Irishmen went to Athens, Greece to compete in the 1906 Intercalated Olympics as an Irish team independent of Britain. They had distinct uniforms and intended to compete for the first time as representatives of their own country. Once in Athens, the Irishmen became aware that the British committee had decided that they would instead compete under the British flag. Peter O'Connor won the silver medal for the long jump. As he was about to receive his medal he rushed towards the flag pole, climbed the pole, and flew the Erin Go Bragh flag, as the Tricolour had not yet received widespread acceptance. The other Irish athletes and a number of Irish-American athletes fended off security for a few minutes while the flag was flown. It was the first time an Irish flag had been flown at a sporting event.
A traditional Scottish song from the 19th century entitled “Erin-go-Bragh” tells the story of a Highland Scot who is mistaken for an Irishman. The first two verses are:
My name's Duncan Campbell from the shire of Argyll
I've travelled this country for many's the mile
I've travelled through Ireland, Scotland and a'
And the name I go under's bold Erin-go-bragh
One night in Auld Reekie as I walked down the street
A saucy big polis I chanced for to meet
He glowered in my face and he gi'ed me some jaw
Sayin' "When cam' ye over, bold Erin-go-bragh?"
- 19th Century Scottish song