Ireland returns to Belfast

The Ireland rugby team will play their [url=]first full international in Belfast for 53 years[/url] against Italy on 25 August 2007.

The ground at Ravenhill has been used for under-age internationals and will also host the [url=]2007 Under 19 Rugby World Cup[/url] but the last time the full Ireland team played there was against Scotland in 1954.

Redevelopment of Ireland’s normal home ground at Lansdowne Road is planned in 2007 hence the move to Ravenhill. Ireland’s home games against France and England will be played in Croke Park. The Italians are competitive at rugby but are not the same standard as their footballing compatriots

This will inevitably spark the usual debates about anthems. Reputedly Ireland lined out to “God Save The Queen” when they last played at Ravenhill but I’ve been unable to confirm this. I expect “Ireland’s Calls” will be used as is the case for away games. “Amhrán na bhFiann” and “Ireland’s Call” are played at Lansdowne Road.

Personally I’d scrap all anthems and handshaking with assorted dignitaries and just get the game started as quickly as possible.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “NI is not disputed to me.”

    This reminds me of an argument I had many years ago with a rather snooty bur adorable girl in Dublin many years ago. A few of us were talking about U2 and this girl declared that Bono was the most desirable man on earth. Now as I said, she was a lovely girl but a bit of a snob and a terrible social climber, so I teased her about fancying a man from Ballymun. She point-blank refused to believe that Bono was from Ballymun. (He’s not from the tower blocks, but it’s still Ballymun.) No matter how many times I and others insisted, she just point-blank refused to accept it.

    Then, by chance, someone in our company produced the paper, or Hot Press or something like that, which happened to carry an interview with the man himself. And there, in that interview, Bono was quoted, describing his upbringing in Ballymun.

    Faced with this incontrovertible evidence, the girl said, in a reply that will stay with me to the grave:

    “Well, I don’t THINK he’s from Ballymun….”

    Some people you just can’t reach!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Though I think there’s also a question mark over how fit Ravenhill will be to host a full international? It’s a long time since I was there, though I live quite nearby. What’s the capacity now? Am I right in thinking that some work is underway there, or planned?

    Maybe the GAA should offer the use of Casement Park? Then 35,000 northerners could enjoy watching Ireland in Belfast – which I’m guessing must be nearly twice the capacity of Ravenhill?

  • Doctor Who

    “It’s one thing to accept British citizenship which is about accepting that unionists refuse to accept their national identity and therefore substitute a ‘citizenship’ for it.”

    Oh is that what it is, oh sorry in that case i must be irish not british because shid man I´m sorry…thanks I realise my error oh thaks lib you sweet man, you must be right and all us brits are just mis guided.. pints on me.

  • Doctor Who

    “Northern ireland fans have given their own response to a neutral environment by flying their flags with uvf & uda flags in unionist areas over the 12th period. ”

    Jamie are you sure they where all blocked booked NI fans, because if they are I will be returning my block booking application.
    Thanks again it has taken another nationalist to whow me the errors of my way.

    Gee thanks jamie.

  • Fokbaik

    Only one thing for it. The formation of a NI Rugby squad. Oh, but the rugger-buggers here won’t have it. Ok, all-ireland side it is…..sorted.

  • Random_Punter

    i think Ravenhill is about 13,000.

    it always makes me cringe when McAleese is wheeled out at every home game surrounded by her flunkies. It reminds me of some tin pot African country. As if all the anthems nonsense doesn’t go on long enough.

    Now I don’t dispute a head of state doing it for important matches, if they holding the World Cup, or maybe a home decider of the 6 nations.

    On the Anthems issue I think Anthems are mostly a load of bollocks. Just play some rugby!

  • JG

    “She point-blank refused to believe that Bono was from Ballymun”
    I point blank refuse to believe that he is from Ballymun as he is from Glasnevin but claimed to be from Ballymun for street cred. Even the directions to his former house on a fan site prove that you have towards Finglas and turn right into Glasnevin prove this.

  • dubliner

    Totally agree Random_punter.

    Add to that what an abysmal president she has been and the cringe factor doubles.

  • IJP


    No, you’d have one anthem asking the Almighty to save the Queen of England, and another asking Him to save the Queen of Northern Ireland… 🙂

    I say let’s do without any national anthem in Dublin or Belfast, and stick to Ireland’s Call, for all its many faults!

  • IJP


    In practice, NI is not a disputed territory, any more than Scotland is (we all agreed that in 1998). Harpo‘s point sort of stands, therefore.

    Although by the same logic you are quite right that Ulster is nine counties. Take note Belfast Telegraph… (actually I’d say there’s more chance of the Soldier Song being played at Ravenhill…)

  • Joe

    The Soldiers Song talks about fighting the ‘Saxon Foe’. That isn’t very republican. The Irish Republic is not supposed to be some sort of Catholic Gaelic state.
    Republicanism is more about people of every class and creed coming together, ‘together standing tall, shoulder to shoulder we’ll answer Ireland’s Call’.
    That seems more appropriate to be the Irish Anthem. I have no interest in Gaeilge, and much prefer to be part of the English-speaking world.

  • fokbaik

    So the IRFU have decreed that there will be no GSTQ at Ravenhill for the Italy game and rather Ireland’s Call. Can we assume that the powers that be will also do away the Soldier’s Song at the game at Landsdowne which follows the Italy game? Have they set a new precedent here?

  • willowfield

    No, we can’t assume that, fokbaik.

    We can assume that it’ll be back to the IRFU’s hypocritical “business as usual” for the next Lansdowne match, with the Southern anthem played and the Southern tricolour flown.

    Shame on the hypocrites, and shame on the spineless fawning yes-men of the Ulster Branch.

  • Rory

    Take it easy fellas. After all it’s only rugby, not something that the mass of people really care about and any shenanigans around it no more than a five-minute wonder.

    In any case neither the British nor Irish anthem will be played, merely that twee-Bambi dirge which is as anodyne as the game itself and all that it represents : Ireland Calls.

    Ireland bloody bawls while enduring it more like.

  • Donnacha

    Perhaps we should choose a different Phil Coulter song to adequately reflect the team’s abilities: Scorn Not Their Simplicity anyone?