Give Ireland Back To The Irish

Album: Wild Life (1972)
Charted: 16 21
Play Video


  • In this overtly political song, Paul McCartney calls for the end of British rule in Northern Ireland:

    Give Ireland back to the Irish
    Don't make them have to take it away

    McCartney has no ancestral ties to Northern Ireland, but still felt compelled to take up the cause. He explained in an interview with the American network ABC: "I'm British, and I was brought up to be proud of things like the British Empire. I don't want my army going 'round shooting my Irish brothers."
  • In March 1972, the British music weekly Melody Maker published a two-page article called "CENSORED" which reported on a number of songs that had been banned - that the BBC, the official British government broadcasting body, had refused to play. Surprisingly, most of the article was devoted to a Paul McCartney composition, "Give Ireland Back To The Irish."

    The song was written as a protest against Bloody Sunday, a notorious incident which took place in Northern Ireland on January 30 that year in which British troops shot dead a number of protesters. At the time of the Melody Maker article the song was #23 in the paper's chart and #19 in the BBC chart but was banned as "unsuitable for broadcasting." The DJ Alan Freeman refused even to mention the song directly, and in his rundown of the Radio One chart referred to it only as "a song by a group called Wings." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • The song was released on February 25, entered the British charts the following day and stayed there for eight weeks.
  • Although "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" was credited to Wings, it was in effect a Paul McCartney single, and is arguably the first protest song he ever penned. He and his late wife Linda are credited as the songwriters.
  • The song unsurprisingly reached #1 in the Republic of Ireland and perhaps less predictably, Spain. "Which I'm very proud of," McCartney noted to Mojo. "Basque separatists loved it."

Comments: 10

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 5th 1972, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" by Wings entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #78, and four weeks later on April 4th, 1972 it peaked at #21 {for 2 weeks} and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    As stated above, it reached #1 in Ireland, that was for one week on March 4th, 1972...
    The record's B-side was an instrumental version of the song.
  • Giles from EnglandGood man Alex. Were you at the 12th this year? And yer sash! Gowd save Norn Iron!
  • Jack from Mesa, AzI'm dismayed by the killing cos in these times being ruled by England doesn't seem oppressive compared to real oppression in the world.
  • Sioraf from Macroon, IrelandThe song did not support the IRA.
  • Alan from East Kilbride, United KingdomActually Northern Ireland is part of the UK (hence the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!). I'm a big fan of Macca but he was so wrong with this single!
  • Brendan from Dublin, IrelandWho wrote they killed countless innocent people? are you telling me that FOREIGN oppressors under a FOREIGN king were innocent,like hell they were. Most people in the republic disagree with the disidants methods but we agree with their beliefs. Let me put this to you though,have you ever heard of the B-specials ? course not,they discriminated against catholics and then the R.U.C burnt out nationalists from their homes and would not give them jobs. So by what you say,we were wrong to take Ireland back ? it's our nation not Britain's. The people who you say are loyal are also dissendants of planters who were British oppressors.
  • Bruce from Boston, MaHere's the tragedy - that all this political bs hasn't helped anyone allow the young generation to kick the old folks ass out and leave their ax-grinding behind. It's pathetic, and there's a good reason for the cliche' "life's too short" It's too late to keep marching for sad old parades just to piss off your neighbors. Wake up and join the 21st century and use the gifts God has given you. So much of the most beautiful art and culture comes from that small island. You could be kings and queens, instead you're s-ing away billions to build walls. I'd love to see a general strike - the youth all hold hands, across all lines and say "we're guiding this ship, if you don't like the new direction, then leave."
  • Ken from Louisville, KyPaul is half Irish. His mother's maiden name was Mohan (McCartney is a Scottish name). Incidentially, John was half Irish on his father's side and George was half-Irish on his mother's side (French...yep, that's an Irish surname). Liverpool has an eclectic mix of Irish, Scottish, Welch and English heritage.
  • Paul from Dublin, IrelandNorthern Ireland is part of IRELAND, hence the title of the song. That's why McCartney wrote the song in the first place, recognising the fact that there will never be peace as long as a foreign invader-the british-are in our country. Incidently, John Lennon also wrote an excellent song on the same topic, The Luck Of The Irish. Says it all.
  • Mj from Offaly, IrelandMajority of "northern" ireland was not loyal to the monarch but the sadistic views of proportional representation used at the time tried to display otherwise.. secondly.. Brits do not belong in IRELAND... than you mister McCartney.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Michael Bolton

Michael BoltonSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for this talk with Bolton from the '80s when he was a focused on writing songs for other artists.

Glen Burtnik

Glen BurtnikSongwriter Interviews

On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.

16 Songs With a Heartbeat

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Lita Ford

Lita FordSongwriter Interviews

Lita talks about how they wrote songs in The Runaways, and how she feels about her biggest hit being written by somebody else.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?