‘We’ still are Soldier Boys…

Much has been said in recent years about the suitability of God Save the Queen remaining the Northern Ireland National Anthem, particularly for sporting events and especially its use in Windsor Park for Northern Ireland matches. Seldom discussed however are the suitability of the militaristic, xenophobic and insular lyrics of Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier’s Song) remaining the National Anthem of the Republic of Ireland.

A poll by the Sunday Independant has indeed revealed that a large number of people (16%) think that the incantation is indeed ‘warlike’ and out of date. However it also suggested 70% of citizens are broadly content with the anthem irrespective of its imagery and overtones, although notably (and perhaps very tellingly) the Independant remarks of those polled ” a large number of them wished they knew the words better”.

Irelands Call was favoured by 7% and a further 7% favoured The Fields of Athenry, observed as being ‘seen as a football hooligan/IRA-type anthem.’

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  • QD. If militaristic were a reason for rejecting a national anthem as outdated, the French one would surely be at the top of the pile as La Marseillaise [hope I spelt that right but unlikely] is the most bloodthirsty of all anthems and no sign of that being ditched. ‘Ireland’s’ Call is a dirge.

  • keano10

    Erm Quincey,

    “a large number of people (16%) think that the incantation is indeed ‘warlike’ and out of date. However it also suggested 70% of citizens are broadly content with the anthem”.

    How does 16% constitute a “large amount” of this poll result?? Particularly bearing in mind that this poll was for the Sindo, the most right-wing of all Irish Newspapers. I’ve seen dubious interpretations of poll results before, but this takes the biscuit…

  • 6crealist

    “Seldom discussed however are the suitability of the militaristic, xenophobic and insular lyrics of Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier’s Song) remaining the National Anthem of the Republic of Ireland.”

    Given that the vast majority of people in the Republic are content with Amhrán na bhFiann remaining as the anthem, why would such a discussion need to be held regularly?

    Those of the Home Rule = Rome Rule variety do seem oddly malcontent and slightly obsessed with Amhrán na bhFiann: feel free to continue discussing it if it makes you feel better.

  • Drumlins Rock

    For a nation that based so much of its identity on cultural matters the Soldiers song always struck me as rather out of kilter with the “marketing”. But as the survey has shown there is no major call for change at present, possibly if a “2nd Republic” and major constitutional changes were to come together then that would be a good time to look at it, but in the meantime possibly the restoration of the original chorus line might be sufficient.
    As for God Save the Queen, it too has been derided over the years and I will confess it is not usually sung in the most inspiring manner, however this rendition from last night of the proms had my spine tingling, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz8rHeJ3FAk

  • Jack2

    “that a large number of people (16%) think that the incantation is indeed ‘warlike’ ”

    If 16% is large how do you describe the 84% that don’t think its “warlike”

    You have tried to spin this article but the people who read this blog can see right through your attempt.
    This isnt Foxnews – you will be called out on your spin!

    One of the worst articles ever on Slugger.

  • Eglise en bois

    As far as I’m concerned “Amhrán na bhFiann” does it for those who are citizen’s of the Irish Republic and even for those aspiring to be the same.

    But if those under the new Irish Constitution entitled to belong to the Irish nation were to be asked, ie including the prods form NI, I suggest the “Amhrán na bhFiann” would fail the approrpiateness test. Why? because it’s a thow back to a non inclusive and in fact exclusive Ireland an Ireland that didn’t cherish all its’ children.

  • Just to expolate: the population of R.O.I. is 4.81 Million. If the poll was indeed accurate, 16% would equate to over 3/4 of a million. Reasonably large. 16% of anything is quite large. Wouldnt like losing 16% of my wages i tell you!

    One of the worst articles ever on Slugger- i feel humbled.

    Just because something doesnt get talked about often doesnt mean its not relevant. In this small island we are often told that certain things are out of date/ anachronistic/ throwbacks. Some of the July celebrations would be a good example. Its always interesting to see what people consider bad throwbacks and ‘good’ throwbacks.

  • circles

    And just because yopu’re talking about something that doesnt get talked about often doesnt mean its relevant. Its a very serious tretch to try and make this an issue.
    Unless of course we are now going to discuss the lyrics of all anthems and then do some kind of X-factor jobby to update them.
    Maybe posting this though would have been a better way to get a discussion going then having a go at the Irish anthem – “in the interest of fairness” of course…

  • Circles, its an article in one of the biggest circulation newspapers in Ireland- Irrespective of any opinion on that paper. Quincey didnt invent it. lol. The actual issue of changing the anthem wasnt manufactured by the paper either, it was recently raised by a TD.

  • 6crealist

    “Just because something doesnt get talked about often doesnt mean its not relevant.”

    Nobody claimed that the issue is irrelevant: rather, it’s either irrelevant or a source of pride to the vast majority of people on the island.

    The anthem seems to excite/annoy some unionists and a small minority in the south.

  • sonofstrongbow

    But why the “Soldiers’s Song”? I guess ‘Back-Shooters’ and ‘Sectarian Killers’ didn’t scan well.

  • west-east

    Is the soldier song out of touch with Ireland today is it part of multi cultural Dublin or the midlands of Ireland does it recognise the greatest sacrifice made by Irishmen during the first world war for pure militaristic point of view,

    Does the anthem do anything for the economey of ireland,does it help the country on the world stage

  • DoppiaVu

    Always thought the whole militaristic theme of was a bit odd. Ireland is hardly known for it’s military history…other than the many Irish who fought alongside the so-called ‘Saxon foe’ in Britain’s many wars. Which I’m sure is not what the song-writers were thinking of.

    But if people like it and it makes them proud then I guess it’s doing its job.

  • Jack2

    DoppiaVu (profile) says:
    1 August 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Ireland is hardly known for it’s military history…other than the many Irish who fought alongside the so-called ‘Saxon foe’ in Britain’s many wars.

    —————————–

    Article from culturenorthernireland.org
    “In just ten days at the Somme in September 1916 the predominantly Irish Catholic 16th Division lost over half of its 11,000 men. ”

    DoppiaVu you have just attempted to wipe out the sacrifice of more than 5,500 men in one line.

  • Dec

    Dear God, not this again.

    Let’s start off by clearing one thing up: The Soldier’s Song does not equate to the Irish National Anthem. Rather, the Irish National Anthem solely consists of the Chorus of The Soldier’s Song.

    So, presumably Quincey, when you mentioned ‘Xenophobic’ you were presumably referring to the bit about the ‘saxon Foe’? Sorry, but that’s not part of the Anthem. If you’re looking for xenophobia in National Anthem’s I’d look a bit closer to home: ‘Rebellious Scots to crush’ and all that.

    As for accusing a National anthem of containing ‘insular’ lyrics, well…that’s the point isn’t it?

    Militaristic? – check out this snippet of lyrics from the Italian National Anthem:

    Let us join in a cohort,
    We are ready to die.
    We are ready to die,
    Italy has called.

    Or again, closer to home:

    ‘Scatter her enemies
    And make them fall
    Confound their politics
    Frustrate their knavish tricks’

  • HeinzGuderian

    Take no notice of the whingers,Quincey.
    A fascinating article,and a very good blog.
    ‘Soldiers are we’………………fighting in the British Army. I,personally,have no whinge with that !! 😉

  • circles

    Strange then that you took the name of a Nazi officer Heinz….. or maybe not that strange.

  • DoppiaVu

    Jack2

    “DoppiaVu you have just attempted to wipe out the sacrifice of more than 5,500 men in one line”

    Maybe try reading my post before the righteous indignation kicks in. In fact, maybe try reading the bit of my post that you reproduced. Yes, the “Irish who fought alongside the so-called ‘Saxon foe’ in Britain’s many wars” bit.

  • Alias

    I’d like to see a 5,000 annual euro levy imposed on all Irish passport holders resident in that part of the United Kingdom known as Northern Ireland, and who pay their taxes to Her Majesty’s government.

    That way, whenever they stick their noses into the internal affairs of a foreign jurisdiction, at least we’d be tokenly obliged to listen to their special pleading before dismissing it.

  • between the bridges

    QD, whatever one’s views of this little ditty there are at least some rhyming poses in the original version, the later attempt to make it truly oirish resulted in a babble of phrases with background noise. So far from banning or replacing it I would merely suggest that the original English language version be used.

  • carl marks

    We (the Irish) are a race known for our poetry music and art let,s get rid of this out of date thing and replace with something more suited to us

  • carl marks

    HeinzGuderian
    ever have anything new to say.
    Alias
    you are a strange and troubled man

  • Mark

    Didn’t Billy Connolly want to replace GSTQ with the theme song from the Archers …. he said the British athletes at the Olympic Games looked so depressed having to march around a stadium to such a miserable sounding athem .

  • Colonel-Tiffin

    I’d like to see a 5,000 annual euro levy imposed on all Irish passport holders resident in that part of the United Kingdom known as Northern Ireland, and who pay their taxes to Her Majesty’s government.

    That way, whenever they stick their noses into the internal affairs of a foreign jurisdiction, at least we’d be tokenly obliged to listen to their special pleading before dismissing it.

    —————————————————

    Surely the £7 billion handed to the our friends in the south will cover your above proposal for a few years to come

  • Dullypicker

    Its a tuneful little ditty I must admit, if not a tad lyrically confrontational. Had a quick browse at its predecessor, which it turns out is equally rabble-rousing lyrically. Perhaps it is slightly out of touch with modern society, but attempts to appease all, with the introduction of “Irelands Call” at sporting events merely adds to divisions.
    I have been in attendance at the rugby on many occasions and have several times had to bear listening to some old fool come out with something like “what are you singing that for, sure that’s the proddy anthem”. Change may not be the option, however I’ve resulted to following the likes of Rory Best and will now sing neither.
    I do however, respect the right for people to sing whichever they wish, even the charming FAI security guard, who sang the soldier song with such gusto and gritted teeth, right into my face at the recent Northern Ireland v’s Republic, Nations Cup football match at the Aviva. I was also impressed by his Cheshire cat grin when GSTQ was heavily booed.
    Good to see we can all get along with such tolerance and equality.
    The Fact of the matter is that Catholics DO play for the Northern Ireland football team and many a Protestant Ulsterman DO indeed don the Green Jersey of Ireland in the Rugby. Their discomfort during the singing of anthems they may not agree with is palpable when the television camera sweeps the line-up. If these two nations are ever to get along, some form of tolerance will have to be adopted, or old wounds will simply throw their stitches and gape once more and our “Shared Society” will never provail.

  • tacapall

    “I’d like to see a 5,000 annual euro levy imposed on all Irish passport holders resident in that part of the United Kingdom known as Northern Ireland, and who pay their taxes to Her Majesty’s government.

    That way, whenever they stick their noses into the internal affairs of a foreign jurisdiction, at least we’d be tokenly obliged to listen to their special pleading before dismissing it”.

    Do you never watch the news or read the papers, maybe you forgot about all the countries that Britain is interfering in the internal affairs of. Well I guess if scenarios like below are being envisaged then it wont be long before we have a new British anthem similar to Amhrán na bhFiann

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/apr/09/frontpagenews.news

  • rhys

    When you come down to it, there were 13% non-RCs at Independence, and it’s 6% (if that) now, and an immensely greater number fought in France than in the IRA. The general tone of people from the South talking about northerners isn’t charming, is it? It’s a good Republican song, and I can sing it all through in Irish, but exclusive it ain’t. Worth an historical think, perhaps?

  • BloodThunder

    The usual nationalist hypocrisy being displayed here. History and commemorations are fine so long as they fit the extremely narrow agenda of what makes ‘good’ Irish nationalism. It is incredible that these particular people are grossly offended by the apparently militaristic Orange Order yet pay allegiance to ‘The Soldier’s Song’.

  • Alias

    “Surely the £7 billion handed to the our friends in the south will cover your above proposal for a few years to come.”

    That was a loan, not a grant, and was advanced by the UK to enable eurosystem banks based in Ireland to meet their debt repayments on circa 120 billion owed to British banks by eurosystem banks based in Ireland.

    Given that Irish taxpayers have donated circa 120 billion to British taxpayers by underwriting debts that would otherwise by underwritten by them, I think I’ll increase that levy to 25k a year…

  • HeinzGuderian

    circles(??),me old china,what exactly has my Slugger pen name,got to do with the price of doughnuts ?

    karl,the day you stop the eternal whinge,is the day I impart some interesting new material !! 😉

  • carl marks

    HeinzGuderian (profile) says:
    1 August 2011 at 9:49 pm

    karl,the day you stop the eternal whinge,is the day I impart some interesting new material !! 😉

    care to produce any evidence of my eternal whinge,
    and as i have pointed out to you before it,s carl not karl.
    but you keep on trolling old boy the rest of will get on with the thread

  • lamhdearg

    Eire should keep its anthem,and ulster/n.i. should keep its one, if the mercenary traitors that play rugby for eire dont like it they should not play for a foreign country. Opps i have dropped my spoon.

  • Brian

    God Save Ireland gets my vote.

  • jonno99

    When (ok if) Ireland is no longer a two state country then the anthem(s) will need another make over.

    GTSQ is a UK anthem and doesn’t really represent the people of NE Ireland. It’s an anthem unionism has stuck by more to display an ultra unionist allegiance. To show to the world that the NI state is a part of Ireland that is British. A comfort blanket.

    The Soldiers song with all its faults does represent Irish nationalism. Unlike the GTSQ in NI, where barely 50% of its residents see it as their anthem, the Soldiers Song is seen by the vast majority in the ROI as their anthem.

    An anthem that is inclusive for all 32 counties has yet to be penned. Ireland’s Call doesn’t do it.

  • circles

    Heinz, habe mich nur gefragt ob deine “nom de plume” was mit deiner Bewunderung des britische Armees zu tun hat. Do you admire big strong men in uniform?

    A new anthem and a new flag for a new nation would be in order for that what if scenario Jonno.

  • JoeBryce

    Flag & anthem are important & will be up for discussion in the negotiations we now creep towards. The Londonderry Air would be the most beautiful tune of any national anthem in the whole world, if appropriate words could be penned.

  • carl marks

    JoeBryce (profile) says:
    2 August 2011 at 10:33 am

    Flag & anthem are important & will be up for discussion in the negotiations we now creep towards. The Londonderry Air would be the most beautiful tune of any national anthem in the whole world, if appropriate words could be penned.
    why do we need words?

  • lamhdearg

    carl not all anthems have words, Spains has no official words, differante regions add the words they chose. that may not work here, with the words of kevin barry or the billy boys being sung over god knows what.

  • Roy Walsh

    This is a matter of some debate in the Capital of late however, why? Amhrán na bhFiann is the anthem and accepted as such by the vast majority of Irish people whether in Cobh or Cushendall, I am always proud to stand in memory of those, Catholic and Protestant, who fought for the establishment of an Irish Republic rather than the mix up we currently suffer.

  • circles

    It does for the 26 counties Roy, but I think if ever there is a united Ireland, both the anthem and flag will have to be up for discussion and change. It would be a new nation needing new symbols.

  • Roy Walsh

    Circles, I suspect you miss my point, near 50% of the six county population consider themselves as Irish and to those who are their national anthem is Amhrán na bhFiann, as to the flag, whats wrong with uniting orange and green, please don’t get sucked in by opinion polls conducted in Bangor which show catholics are in favour of remaining in a united kingdom.

  • carl marks

    lamhdearg (profile) says:
    2 August 2011 at 12:40 pm

    carl not all anthems have words, Spains has no official words, differante regions add the words they chose. that may not work here, with the words of kevin barry or the billy boys being sung over god knows what.

    point taken

  • Clanky

    Up until a few years ago I would have agreed that Amhrán na bhFiann was not an appropriate anthem for a modern Ireland, especially an Ireland which at some point may have to persuade the unionist population of the North that there wouldbe a place for them in a United Ireland.

    As a rugby fan I was pleased at the idea of “a song for Ireland”, but frankly if ireland’s Call is the best that we can come up with then I think we are better sticking with Amhrán na bhFiann and to hell with not offending the prods 🙂

  • jonno99

    ” suspect you miss my point, near 50% of the six county population consider themselves as Irish and to those who are their national anthem is Amhrán na bhFiann”

    That’s very true. So in effect the Soldiers song is the national anthem for the great majority on this island. But in any future all Ireland state I assume it will be a hard sell for the unionist community to accept it as theirs?

    It’s a hypothetical discussion anyway and to some even wishful thinking to pen a new anthem for a new Ireland. Judging by the efforts made so far I think it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Ireland’s Call is an effort to be inclusive but the song is a dirge.

  • carl marks

    sometimes i think the theme tune for laural and hardy would sum the whole thing and keep prods and taigs happy.
    problem is we would argue over who was laurel and who was hardy

  • Coll Ciotach

    Imagine the embarrassment of having a national anthem based on thanking God for the saving of your monarch from an anal fistula

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WReF2vUC_c