"A Nation Once Again" is a song, written in the early to mid-1840s by Thomas Osborne Davis (1814–1845). Davis was a founder of an Irish movement whose aim was the independence of Ireland.
Raymond Daly and Derek Warfield describe how Davis was acutely aware that songs could have a strong emotional impact on people. Davis wrote that "a song is worth a thousand harangues". He felt that music could have a particularly strong influence on Irish people at that time. He wrote: "Music is the first faculty of the Irish ... we will endeavour to teach the people to sing the songs of their country that they may keep alive in their minds the love of the fatherland."
A Nation Once Again was first published in The Nation on July 13th 1844 and quickly became a rallying call for the growing Irish nationalist movement at that time.
The song is a prime example of the "Irish rebel music" sub-genre. The song's narrator dreams of a time when Ireland will be, as the title suggests, a free land, with "our fetters rent in twain." The lyrics exhort Irishmen to stand up and fight for their land: "And righteous men must make our land a nation once again."
It has been recorded by many Irish singers and groups, notably John McCormack, The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, The Wolfe Tones in 1972, (a group with Republican leanings), the Poxy Boggards, and The Irish Tenors (John McDermott, Ronan Tynan, Anthony Kearns) and Sean Conway for a 2007 single. In the Beatles' movie "A Hard Day's Night", Paul's grandfather begins singing the song at the British police officers after they arrest him for peddling autographed pictures of the lads.
In 2002, the Wolfe Tones' rendition of "A Nation Once Again" was voted the world's most popular song according to a BBC World Service global poll of listeners, ahead of "Vande Mataram", the national song of India.