The Ireland rugby team got their asses whipped in Paris yesterday, which was a pity, especially as they’d done so well last year and in the first period of this game against France they looked fairly impressive. But. BUTBUTBUT. Defeat on the field is one thing; self-abasement in the lead-up to the game is another. In place of ‘Amhran na Bhfiann’, the national anthem, we got ‘Ireland’s Call’.
Is there another country in the world that is afraid to play its own national anthem? Personally I think ‘Ireland’s Call’ has all the stirring, motivational qualities of ‘Puppet on a String’ (take a bow for both, former classmate Phil Coulter), but that’s beside the point. Even it were wonderfully inspiring, ‘Ireland’s Call’ is still not be the Irish national anthem. So why do we play the Coulter piece? Because it might upset some of the Irish players. That is, some of the northern Irish players, who, um, don’t like the way it calls for Irish freedom. Mentions a Saxon foe (if you translate it). Offends their sensibilities. And how many northern Irish potentially-offended players are there on the team? And why are they so important that the rest of the team and the Irish supporters must, shame-faced, nudge the national anthem off-stage? I dunno. But imagine if someone suggested that ‘God Save The Queen’ or ‘The Marseillaise’ should be ditched, because some of the team didn’t like it.
Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised. There are Irish people who think the words of the national anthem should be changed because they’re too bloodthirsty. And there are Irish people who think the national anthem should be ditched permanently. Truly, we are a people with a deep, wide streak of self-loathing.