Ireland: The Emerald Isle

The Emerald Isle


The following verse contains the first printed example of the term ‘Emerald Isle’ being used in reference to Ireland. William Drennan, a Belfast born poet, was also a successful physician and radical political activist who no doubt chose this poetic adage in reference to the island’s lush green landscapes. His dying wish was that his coffin be carried by three Catholics and three Protestants.




Alas! for poor Erin that some are still seen,

Who would dye the grass red from their hatred to green;

Yet, oh! when you're up, and they're down, let them live,

Then yield them that mercy which they would not give.

Arm of Erin, be strong! but be gentle as brave;

And uplifted to strike, be still ready to save;

Let no feeling of vengeance presume to defile

The cause of, or men of, the Emerald Isle.

- William Drennan, When Erin First Rose, 1795.

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