No postings in the past few days, even the Croke Park/God Save the Queen 'controversy' didn't tempt me into the ring. I found the story a bit fatuous, especially as the Irish rugby fraternity has rarely been home to hardcore Republicans. It was to be expected that Republican Sinn Féin would muster a gaggle of protesters but I don't really see what the problem was there. This issue was decided long ago when the GAA voted to allow football and rugby into Croker; they debated it then and the outcome was that having the British monarchy's anthem played at a rugby match was not going to unduly bother them, especially with the prospect of two and a half million euros to soften the blow. The incident would have been a lot more fraught had the match been a soccer international - rugby fans are such polite sorts that it would be hard to imagine them booing anybody's national anthem - but I still think that God Save the Queen would have been respected by the Irish soccer crowd, though this respect would have been leavened by an appropriate amount of slagging too.
Anyway both Amhran na bhFiann and God Save the Queen are god-awful dirges when examined from a musical point of view and the previous should be replaced (not because of its violent lyrics - listen to the Marseillaise or dozens of other anthems for that matter) but because it is a drearily unmotivating piece of music. And, no Ireland's Call is not a suitable replacement (only the rugby shower could concoct a palliative as dull and unimaginative as this one), nor is The Fields of Athenry, a piece of plastic Paddywhackery that best symbolises the Irish people's loss of any remaining connection with genuine Irish culture. But given what passes for 'Civic' songwriting in Ireland these days any possible replacement would no doubt be something like John Waters and Tommy Moran's composition which will represent Ireland at this year's Eurovision. This piece of pan-European piffle demonstrates how truly toothless the Castlerea autodidact really is. When Slovenia gained its independence in 1991 it chose for its national anthem a verse of 'Zdravljica', a celebrated poem by national poet, the 19th century Romantic, France Prešeren, which begins with the most generous line: 'God's blessing on all nations'. The verse had already been set to music by Stanko Premerl, there presumably being no Slovene equivalent of Phil Coulter. It is a national anthem to envy, one that bears comparison with the best, such as the Marseillais, Brazil's and the Russian/former Soviet one. Ireland's choice would no doubt be selected by a Louis Walsh-chaired phone-in contest. It really doesn't bear thinking about. Better the devil you know.