Erin Go Bragh – Meaning & Origin

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Colorful expressions, influenced by other languages, litter spoken and written English. These are borrowed words or phrases adapted into English, often using an anglicized version through spelling and/or pronunciation. To anglicize something means to make it English in form or character.

Erin go bragh is a great example of this. Originally a rebellious rallying cry, Erin go bragh has become a statement of support and love for Ireland and is popularly yelled out at sporting events and during Saint Patrick’s Day—the patron saint of Ireland.

Let’s learn about this saying, its original spelling, and why it is such a popular term to this day.

What Is the Meaning of Erin Go Bragh?

Erin Go Bragh Meaning Origin 1

Erin go bragh or Erin go braugh means Ireland forever. It is the anglicized version of the Irish phrase, Éirinn (or Éire) go Brách, which roughly translates as Ireland until the end of time.

Erin is always capitalized as it means Ireland.

The term has strong emotional origins tied to Ireland’s stance against British oppression, and although the rallying cry of Erin go bragh may no longer linger on a field of battle, it still represents a powerful statement in support of Ireland whether on a sport’s field or in celebration.

Erin Go Bragh Examples in a Sentence

  • The entire stadium erupted in cheers of Erin go bragh when the Irish team, considered the tournament’s underdogs, scored the winning goal despite being down two players due to injury.
  • Chicago goes all out for Saint Patrick’s Day as a nod towards its Irish roots, printing shirts, tams, and novelty items emblazoned with the expression Erin go bragh.
  • You don’t have to be Irish to toast Erin go bragh, especially when celebrating the superior ale brewed within Ireland.

Erin Go Bragh Origins

Erin Go Bragh Ngram
Erin go bragh usage trend.

Éirinn is Gaelic for our modern pronunciation of the country Ireland. This is a Celtic language influenced by the Gaels, a massive tribal empire that was strong enough to defeat the Romans in 380 BC. They likely arrived in the modern-day UK as early as 3200 BC.

Although various forms of Gaelic are still taught and spoken, it has been outlawed and oppressed in the past by the British in their attempts to unify surrounding lands and countries. Today, it is believed approximately 70,000 people still speak Gaelic in Ireland regularly, and many systems of education have continued to integrate it into schools to help keep the language alive.

Éirinn go brách has its roots in the Irish Rebellion against the British in 1798. At this time, a group of Irish rebels staged an uprising against British rule but were defeated in a bloody battle. The battle cry was written onto their flags as Erin go brah to express Irish allegiance, and the anglicized spelling has been used ever since by Irish natives and Irish supporters alike.

The phrase became popular in the United States when the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, a unit of Irish–American U.S. Army deserters, fought for Mexico during the Mexican–American War. Many of these deserters felt they were symbolically fighting against their original English oppressors after forced immigration to the US and proudly painted the battle cry upon their flags as their forefathers had done during the Irish Rebellion.

Let’s Review

Despite its violent inception, the expression Erin go bragh is a popular way to express your solidarity with Ireland, whether in support of a sporting event, at a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, or even when discussing the ongoing politics of the country.

Originally a battle cry, it means Ireland until the end of time, and is a way to exclaim Ireland forever!

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