“God Save Ireland:” An Irish Nationalist Broadside

Chris. A. Gallagher, “God Save Ireland,” Minneapolis: Emerald Publishing Company, 1895. Osher Map Library Collection, University of Southern Maine.

Gina Marie Guadagnino, MFA, MA, is Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Affairs in the Office of the President at the University of Southern Maine. She received her Master’s in Irish Studies from NYU in 2022, and her debut novel, The Parting Glass, was published by Aria Books (Simon & Schuster) in 2019.

“God Save Ireland,” the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education’s recently acquired chromolithographic broadside, was produced by the Emerald Publishing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a beautifully preserved piece of late-19th century Irish Nationalist propaganda. With an 1895 copyright attributed to Chris. A. Gallagher, the broadside, which may have been the only item that Emerald Publishing Company produced, appears to have been designed to raise money and awareness for the Irish Republican Nationalist cause in Ireland amongst Irish Americans. Indeed, the broadside’s very title can be read as the first part of the sentiment “God Save Ireland from the English,” the italicized portion being implied.

The broadside’s imagery is divided into two sections; on the left, there are depicted scenes of English colonial atrocities perpetrated against the Irish in Ireland. This portion of the broadside bears the legend “English Argument on Irish Soil.” Above, there are images of barefoot Irish peasants – primarily women and children – being evicted from thatched cottages by armed soldiers in traditional British red coats while well-dressed men in frock coats and fashionable hats look on.[i] This is an obvious reference to the rackrenting and eviction schemes that became endemic throughout Ireland in the 19th century, through which English and Anglo-Irish landlords would increase the rent on their Irish (and predominantly Catholic) tenants until they could no longer afford to pay, and could therefore legally be evicted.[ii] Evictions were popular amongst landlords in the post-enclosure period as landowners found it to be more lucrative to use formerly occupied land for grazing or cash crops.[iii]

Below the eviction scene, there are two images side by side. In the image on the left, an English judge is shown holding a rope from behind his bench; the rope is attached to the neck of a man standing in the docket, dressed in a brown coat. This seems to indicate that the judge has already condemned the man to death. To the right, there is an image of an English constable holding a man by the throat and brandishing a billy club. The man appears to be falling to his knees; one hand grips the constable’s hand at his throat while the other hangs helplessly at his side. Although the man does not appear to be fighting back, the constable is shown ready to bring the billy club down on the man’s head. Taken together, these images are designed to demonstrate that there was no legal justice for the Irish under English colonial rule; the Irish were at the mercy of violent constables and partial judges. The brutality of these images is intended to drive home to the viewer that the Irish lacked institutional recourse for their unjust and inhumane treatment at the hands of the English.

The image below these two is that of a sailing vessel flying a red flag with a Union Jack in the upper left corner: the Red Ensign of 1801 which was flown by the British Royal Navy until 1864.[iv] The landmass behind the vessel is labeled “Van-Diemen’s Land.” As Van Diemen’s Land, which was renamed Tasmania by 1856, it seems likely that this scene is intended to reference the transportation of Irish criminals to the penal colony of New South Wales in the Famine and post-Famine eras.[v] In concert with the indictment of the biased judicial system in colonial Ireland, this serves to unite the images on the left of the broadside into a compelling narrative: faced with rackrenting, eviction, and legal injustice, Irish individuals – primarily men – who attempted to defy their English colonizers would be punished with transportation.[vi]

The final images on the left of the broadside show a man standing in what might be a witness box, leaning over the side with a smug look on his face. In one hand, he grasps a full moneybag, marked with an English pound; the box beneath his leaning arm is crudely marked “INFORMER,” indicating that he has been bribed by the English. To the right, a scene similar to the eviction shown above is displayed, labeled “1847 Famine.” This, of course, refers to the infamous potato blight that devastated the Irish peasantry from roughly 1845 – 1852. It is important to note that while the potato blight was referred to in England and the United States as the Great Famine, the Irish referred to it as An Gorta Mór: the Great Hunger. Ireland continued to produce abundant crops throughout the years of 1845 – 1852, however these crops were intended for consumption by the Anglo-Irish ascendancy class, or for exportation to England.[vii] 1847 was widely understood to be the worst year of the Great Hunger as record numbers of poor, rural Irish died of starvation and disease.[viii] Taken together, the images depicted above the legend “English Argument on Irish Soil” are intended to convey a culture of institutional cruelty, exploitation, and injustice perpetrated upon the Irish by the English colonists.

The images on the right side of the broadside provide a stark contrast from the various miseries depicted on the left. The predominant image is that of Columbia, the personification of America, standing radiantly crowned with laurels in the foreground, a collection of American Revolutionary War-era soldiers standing armed behind her. Emanating from the rays of the sun on the hills behind her are the names “Barry,” “Montgomery,” “Sullivan,” “Morgan,” and “Knox.” Each of these individuals represents an Irish-American hero of the American Revolutionary War. “Barry” most likely Commodore John Barry, sometimes known as “the father of the American Navy,” who was born in County Wexford, Ireland.[ix] “Montgomery” is Brigadier-General (and later Major-General) Richard Montgomery, whose death at the 1775 Battle of Quebec made him famous on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the most prominent “Irishmen who shed their blood in support of American Independence.”[x] “Sullivan” refers to General John Sullivan, the son of Irish immigrants who settled in New Hampshire.[xi] The victor of many battles of the American Revolution, he was noted for crossing the Delaware with George Washington.[xii] The name “Morgan” presents the modern reader with something of a conundrum; while there are several men with the surname Morgan who are considered heroes of the Revolutionary War, all of them are of Welsh extraction. It is possible that “Morgan” refers to one of these men who was mistakenly understood to be Irish in the late 19th century; it is equally possible that “Morgan” refers to someone else entirely, whose name would have been familiar to the 19th century viewer of this broadside. Given that the other names in this sequence are all military leaders, several of whom fought alongside George Washington, the former is the likeliest option, with the most prominent candidate being General Daniel Morgan.[xiii] Finally, “Knox” is Henry Knox, the son of Scots-Irish parents who rose through the ranks of the Continental Army to become a Major-General, eventually being appointed Secretary of War upon his retirement.[xiv]

In her outstretched hands, Columbia holds a golden-hilted sword. Stepping forward to take the sword is Hibernia, the personification of Ireland, whose maiden harp – a symbol of United Irish Independence – lies behind her as manacles fall from her wrists.[xv] Above Hibernia stands a collection of men wearing tunics emblazoned with shamrocks, holding aloft swords and a banner that reads “Ireland A Nation.” Below Columbia and Hibernia is written “Columbia to Erin. ‘Try this! In it I found my deliverance’” – a clear recommendation of revolution as a means of throwing off English colonialism. The legend below the right side of the broadside reads “Irish Argument on American Soil.”

The two images are bisected by a series of banners and flags; the topmost one reads “God Save Ireland.” Below this, wreathed in shamrocks, are the American flag and the green harp flag, used as a symbol of an independent Ireland since the Catholic Confederacy of 1642.[xvi] Between the flags, which are tied together, is a shield with the stars and stripes; below this hands a green banner bearing the names “Allen,” “Larkin,” and “O’Brien,” encircled with a crown of laurels. The entire collection of images is framed in shamrocks strung along ribbons: Irish tricolor on the left, stars and stripes on the right. The upper left corner of the frame reads “Emmet” while the upper right reads “Meagher.”

“Allen,” “Larkin,” and “O’Brien” are William Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O’Brien, collectively known as the “Manchester Martyrs.” All three were Fenians and members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.[xvii] The three men took part in an attack on a police van in Manchester on September 18, 1867 in an attempt to rescue two prominent Fenians, Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy.[xviii] Although successful, in the process of this exploit, an English police sergeant was killed. Allen, Larkin, and O’Brien were convicted of murder on November 1, 1867, and in a speech from the dock, Allen declared “I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people.”[xix] The three men were sentenced to death and hanged at a public execution on November 23, 1867, after which the anniversary of their deaths was annually commemorated by those in the Irish nationalist movement.[xx]

“Emmet”, of course, is Robert Emmet, the well-known Irish revolutionary who first joined the United Irishmen’s Rebellion of 1798.[xxi] Emmet later went on to be one of the main architects of the Irish Rebellion of 1803, which is sometimes known as “Emmet’s Rebellion.” In spite of his rebellion’s abject failure, Emmet had a reputation as a romantic Irish martyr for the Nationalist cause, whose post-execution legacy was immortalized by countless Irish poets, historians, and nationalists.[xxii] He was the subject of poems, plays, and songs, and his legacy was evoked repeatedly during every subsequent movement toward Irish independence by everyone from Patrick Pearse to Eamon de Valera.[xxiii] “Meagher” refers to Thomas Francis Meagher, a revolutionary Young Irelander who was convicted of treason and transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1849.[xxiv] He was considered a somewhat romantic figure as he had escaped the penal colony at pistol-point and made his way to North America in time to join the Union Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War.[xxv]

This collection of Irish nationalist heroes and Irish-American Revolutionary War heroes, in concert with Columbia’s decidedly martial recommendation to Hibernia, makes the message of this broadside abundantly clear: the atrocities of the British in Ireland will not end without an armed rebellion. Like American independence, Irish independence will only be achieved through revolution. The broadside itself may have been printed for sale to raise money for the Irish independence movement. The publisher appears to be Christopher A. Gallagher, a Catholic lawyer from Manchester, New Hampshire, who founded the Emerald Toilet Company (a parfumerie) in 1897 after the loss of his hearing forced him to give up practicing law.[xxvi]  His parents, Richard and Cecelia Gallagher, were both ethnically Irish. He seems to have been a strong advocate of organized labor[xxvii] after his move to Minnesota in 1886, and had previously been a member of the Land League.[xxviii] He died in 1921, and was buried back in Manchester in what appears to be a family plot.[xxix]

To see the print in detail: https://oshermaps.org/map/58497.0001

The print is also on display in the OML’s current gallery exhibition: “A Pageant of Spectacles: Chromolithography in America,” November 30, 2023 – June 29, 2024.


[i] Kerby A. Miller, et al., “Emigrants and Exiles: Irish Cultures and Irish Emigration to North America, 1790–1922,” Irish Historical Studies 22 (September 1980): 97–125.

[ii]  Kevin Kenny, “Irish emigration, ca. 1845–1900,” in James Kelly, ed. The Cambridge History of Ireland Volume 3, gen. ed. Thomas Bartlett, 4 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.): 666–87.

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ralph Kelly, Historical Flags of Australia, https://www.flagsaustralia.com.au/HistoricalFlags.htm, 2021.

[v] Patrick O’Farrell, “The Irish in Australia and New Zealand, 1791–1870.” in A New History of Ireland, Vol. V. Ireland Under the Union, I, 1801–70., ed. W.E. Vaughan, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989): 661–681.

[vi] Ibid

[vii]  Kevin Kenny, “Irish emigration, ca. 1845–1900,” in James Kelly, ed. The Cambridge History of Ireland Volume 3, gen. ed. Thomas Bartlett, 4 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.): 666–87.

[viii] Cormac Ó Gráda, Black ’47 and Beyond: The Great Irish Famine in History, Economy, and Memory (New Jersey: Princeton, 1999): 3–12, 84–121.

[ix] William Barry Meany, Commodore John Barry, the father of the American navy (New York: Harper & Bros, 1911), 72.

[x] Eugene A. Coyle, “From Abbyville to Quebec: The Life and Times of General Richard Montgomery,” Dublin Historical Record 54, no. 2 (2001): 146–60. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30101280.

[xi] Thomas C. Amory, “Memoir of General Sullivan.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 2, no. 2 (1878): 196–210. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20084342.

[xii] Ibid 198

[xiii] Eric Anderson, “Daniel Morgan,” On Point 18, no. 3 (2013): 19–22. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26363214.

[xiv] David Ford, “MG Henry Knox,” On Point 11, no. 2 (2005): 18–18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26357216.

[xv] Barra Boydell, “The Female Harp: The Irish Harp in 18th- and Early-19th-Century Romantic Nationalism.” RIdIM/RCMI Newsletter 20, no. 1 (1995): 10–17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41604994.

[xvi] Emily Cullen, “Summoning Her Children to Which Flag?” History Ireland 24, no. 6 (2016): 32–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/histirel.24.6.32.

[xvii] C.J. Woods, “Allen, William Philip.” in Dictionary of Irish Biography, (October 2009), DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.000119.v1

[xviii] Ibid

[xix] Ibid

[xx] Ibid

[xxi] Patrick M. Geoghegan, “Emmet, Robert,” in Dictionary of Irish Biography, (February 2011), DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.002921.v1

[xxii] Ibid

[xxiii] Ibid

[xxiv] Mathias Bodkin, “Thomas Francis Meagher, 1822-1867,” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 57, no. 225 (1968): 49–53. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30087275.

[xxv] Ibid

[xxvi] The American Perfumer and Essential Oil Review, Vol. XI, (New York: Perfumer Publishing Company: March 1916 – February 2017): 302.

[xxvii] “Want Babb’s Scalp. A Resolution Asking Him to Resign Adopted at a Meeting,” St. Paul Daily Globe (Saint Paul, MN), April 23, 1889.

[xxviii] “Home Gossip,” Andover Advertiser (Lawrence, MA), March 18, 1881.

[xxix] Ancestry.com. New Hampshire, U.S., Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.