U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Meaning

“Sunday Blood Sunday” is a well-known track from U2.  It is rightfully identified with violence in the United Kingdom, as the “Bloody Sunday” that inspired this song refers to an infamous incident which occurred in Northern Ireland during 1972 that resulted in 14 deaths. 

However, the song is not specifically about that event per se. In fact U2 has gone out of their way to explain to the audience that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is not a political song where they are choosing one side in this – or any – conflict against another. Rather it is a song in which yes, the artists are speaking out against the violence in Ireland but more so deadly disagreements wherever they may be happening in the world. And they are taking a nonviolent, peace-making stance through it all.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Facts about “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

This song is part of U2’s War album and was composed by the following:

  • Bono
  • The Edge
  • Larry Mullen Jr.
  • Adam Clayton

This track was initially recorded between September and November 1982. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite.

It was finally released in the Netherlands and Germany on the 21st of March 1983 under the record label Island.

The video of this song was directed by Gavin Taylor. It features footage of a live performance of the band’s show, dubbed U2 Live at Red Rocks, held on 5th June 1983.

In the year 2011, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was ranked as the number 272 song on the list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by the Rolling Stone Magazine.

A live edition of this track is featured on the documentary-style movie Bloody Sunday of 2002.

What really happened on Bloody Sunday in 1972

30th January, 1972 was a day of merciless bloodshed which is forever written on the minds of citizens of Northern Ireland and Britain. A sporadic mass shooting incident of about 28 innocent civilians by the British Army occurred on that day. A peaceful protest by unarmed demonstrators against internment was the unlucky event which triggered this callous response from a faction of the British Army (Parachute Regiment or 1 Para).

In all, fourteen people died. Out of this number, 13 fatalities occurred on the shooting spot while a badly injured victim died four months later from his gunshot wounds.

One gruesome thing about this murder was the age range of the victims; some of them were teenagers and young people in their twenties who tried running away from danger. Others got shot while trying to help wounded persons. It was so chaotic that you wouldn’t like to be an eyewitness.


During investigations, the soldiers defended their unlawful and shameful atrocity by saying that they shot at dangerous people who wielded weapons such as guns and bombs. These claims weren’t convincing enough to the investigative bodies. The army fabricated cover up stories to make themselves look right. These doubts lead to a later re-investigation of the crimes for twelve years.


Conclusions from the Saville report showed that the killings were both unjustified and unjustifiable. The report also clarified that soldiers intentionally lied about the brutality meted out to innocent citizens. With this realization, former British Prime minister David Cameron apologized on behalf of the UK.

The sad story above was the key inspiration behind the lyrics of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.

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