Current Affairs Politics

Irish Senators Fiddle With Anthems While Irish History Burns

Every time I hear of some new bit of nonsense out of Seanad Éireann, the unelected – and unelectable – upper house of the Oireachtas, I rue the day that the voters of Ireland refrained from ejecting the legislative circus of self-important buffoons and failed party hacks from their cushioned seats. The latest bit of senatorial embarrassment concerns a draft report by the Seanad Public Consultation Committee which argues that Amhrán na bhFiann, that old dirge of a national anthem, should be given official protection and promotion by the State. Their list of recommendations includes the oddball suggestion that Irish and English language verses of the song should be sent out to all publicly-funded schools. Which, of course, begs an obvious question: who on earth sings Amhrán na bhFiann in the English language? I’ve never heard anyone belt out “The Soldier’s Song” as Béarla and I’ve no idea why we would want children to do so in the first place. This peculiar proposal is followed by the repugnant idea that crowds or audiences at public events should stand to attention when the tune is being played. What are we? Americans?!

Meaningless displays of “Irishness” – of Plastic Paddy nationalism – absolutely infuriate me. Quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn about anthems and flags (as it happens, I loathe the Tricolour and favour a more fitting and aesthetically pleasing alternative). The important thing is for all citizens in Ireland to have a sense of common purpose and participation in their own nation-state. To have a genuine feeling of being readers and authors in a shared national story which stretches back for millennia. A story which is open to all who make this island their home, contributing their own distinct chapters to the greater narrative. Such a sense can come from something as simple and as practical as someone having a good grounding in history, both of their own country and of the wider world. Which is why the Government decision to shred the history syllabus in the education curriculum is so reprehensible. Where were the concerned political dilettantes of Seanad Éireann then? Or do they only find an interest in simplistic, quasi-jingoistic stunts?

7 comments on “Irish Senators Fiddle With Anthems While Irish History Burns

  1. I’m sure no one sings Amhrán na bhFiann in English; which is odd, as the original lyrics were written in English and only later translated into Irish.


    • Joe Citizen

      Correct, “Amhrán na bhFiann” (Irish pronunciation: [ˈəuɾˠaːn̪ˠ n̪ˠə ˈvʲiːən̪ˠ]), called “The Soldier’s Song” in English, is the Irish national anthem. The music was composed by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney, the original English lyrics by Kearney, and the Irish-language translation, now usually heard, by Liam Ó Rinn…….Wikipedia


    • not altogether sure korhomme – When I learnt it back in the day, our instructor tried to explain the irish words in English. It has stayed with me as a mixture of Irish and English in my head. For me some lines are in Irish and some in English and I switch back and forth as i listen to it. – maybe my linguistic confusion really reflects the country best?


  2. Joe Citizen

    tricolour flag many Irish patriots died for , not some celtic sunburst


  3. 1. It is a silly national anthem (yes I heard it sung in English, in London). 2. There is no orange in the Irish flag. 3. That’s it.


  4. Wee Jimmie

    The Irish FA recruited assorted English footballers who qualified for Ireland under the Irish grandparents’ rule. At his first international one of them leaned over to his team-mate after the first national anthem had been played and said “Well, I don’t think much of their anthem.”
    “Actually, I think it’s ours.” said his team-mate.


  5. Seamus Mallon

    Actually the Celtic support sing it with gusto in English which I can understand as They are not conversant as Gaeilge.


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