Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tackling the anthem

So the Six Nations championship returns to Dublin this Saturday when we host England at Croke Park. Ravenhill, the traditional national rugby ground, has been deemed too rickety, and the Gaelic Athletic Association - which normally regards rugby as a "garrison sport" - has, pretty magnanimously, consented to the use of its premier venue for this season's internationals.

In 1920, Croke Park saw the random murder of 14 people by British crown forces as retaliation for the murder, by the IRA, of 14 British soldiers in front of their families earlier the same day.

And so it is, 87 years later, that many dread the singing of Britain's national anthem "God save the Queen" at Croker this Saturday when the English players line up against the Irish team. Fair enough.

Interestingly, Northern Ireland's contribution of players to the Irish national team has been so big that it was deemed appropriate some time back to introduce a special anthem, "Ireland's Call" instead of the Éire national anthem "The Soldier's Song" which has fairly bloodthirsty, antagonistic lyrics. I saw this as a Big move - and also a logical one since the nation of Ireland is composed of two sovereign jurisdictions, and to use the national anthem of one is to alienate the other.

There are voices calling for the English to forego the singing of their anthem this week (see the public comments at the end of the Belfast Telgraph article linked above). As a Big move, I think England should sing another song, but for a different reason. That reason is this: "God save the Queen" is not the English national anthem; there is no English national anthem. GSTQ is the national anthem of the United Kingdom. The English have no right to hog it, and to sing it as they line up against the Scots and Welsh is as ridiculous as hearing France sing "Ode to Joy" as they prepare to hammer Germany.

So let the English sing "Jerusalem" or some other quintessential dirge. Anything except GSTQ. Or "Greensleeves".

13 Comments:

At 4:36 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

I doubt that anyone in the crowd at Croke took part in the atrocities mentioned. If Ireland is to be one of the independent nations of the world, then it is important to accept any nation's national anthem The folks that are having a problem with GSTQ are still imprisoned by the English. Besides, when Scotland gives them their independence shortly, they are probably going to have to come up with another one anyway. Maybe it's time that all nations began to look at national anthems that speak of the hopes and aspirations of their people and relegate the old confrontational ones to nostalgic song status.

 
At 12:09 p.m., Anonymous Paul said...

There are voices calling for the English to forego the singing of their anthem this week (see the pubic comments at the end of the Belfast Telgraph article linked above).

Given my own rather low spelling abilities, I tend not to point out others faults....but I think "pubic is probably a rather appropriate description in this case of the usual suspects' moans...

 
At 12:42 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

Eeek. Thanks, Paul.

 
At 6:46 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

Divine intervention, that's all. Nice choice of words b.u.

 
At 2:31 p.m., Anonymous Keith said...

The Northern Ireland football team play GSTQ rather than (in my opinion) the more logical Danny Boy/Londonderry Air at Internationals.

At least England has any number of songs they could sing rather than GSTQ.

 
At 9:30 p.m., Anonymous beano said...

Keith,

Danny Boy/A Londonderry Air, would indeed be more logical, but it is also shite. Therein lies the problem.

And while the situation is erroneous, I don't think it's fair to blame the English for sticking to their own national anthem. I don't know about rugby, but in football all 4 home nations used to line up under GSTQ, Scotland and Wales then decided to change this. So England aren't hogging the anthem, the Scots and Welsh have declined to use it.

That said, I'd be glad to see both NI and England choose distinctive anthems. The problem is England has many (I always liked Land of Hope and Glory), while Northern Ireland has none.

Bar Danny Boy.

Which is pants.

 
At 11:31 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

"when Scotland gives them their independence shortly,"

Spot on Bill;¬)

I sort of agree with you Big fella, apart from being antiquated(no bad thing) and unrepresentative of the current English nation. GSTQ also mentions crushing Scots in one verse and some anti=Catholic crap in another. I, as a Catholic Scot could never associate myself with it under any circumstances.

The fact that some inbred family, the head of which is the titular head of state should be glorified in this day and age is beyond me. Incredibly some still take seriously the king/queen and country shite. Others sadly use it as a vehicle for intolerance.

 
At 6:29 p.m., Anonymous Enoch Disraeli said...

I like GSTQ and think it's far better than that Scottish anthem that no one knows. The verse that some anonymous person has mentioned was simply an addition when the English were fighting some Scottish rebels. Right? No one ever sings it, when was the last time you heard the 2nd verse or beyond sung? I wouldn't mind hearing Jerusalem for matches against home nation teams.

 
At 11:56 p.m., Blogger EWI said...

of 14 British soldiers in front of their families earlier the same day.

Err, no. The 14 were British intelligence agents, executed while serving in Ireland. No families present.

 
At 11:50 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

"I like GSTQ and think it's far better than that Scottish anthem that no one knows."

Eh... I know it and so do many of my countrymen.

"The verse that some anonymous person has mentioned was simply an addition when the English were fighting some Scottish rebels. Right?"

My name is right above my comment, hardly anonymous. And the rebels part is subjective isn't it? although your level of accuracy is at least consistant:¬)

I may be making a wild assuption but I would guess that you are not a countryman of mine. We will choose for ourselves soon enough what we want to do with everything and anything pertaining to Scotland. And not a moment too soon!!!

I really enjoyed the Ireland game on sunday and was impressed by the way everyone just got on with it. If only the Unionists in Ireland would even begin to show the level of maturity on display at croke park yesterday. That would be great.

 
At 4:21 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

I'm sure there was a unionist or two at Croke. As for a Scottish National Anthem, I sincerely hope that "Flower of Scotland" isn't the choice and if it is, then it is to be hoped that some Scot will re-write the words. As a piper, I love the music and play it often (right after "Scots Wha' Hae") and can even manage the first verse not too badly but it is all downhill after that. There are so many beautiful anthems to choose from, I'm sure there is a better choice available.

 
At 9:39 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

Absolutely Bill, for Croke and anthems.

The sentimentalist in me loves Rabbie Burns "A man's a man", the fur aw that and aw that aye produces a tear. The weans have picked up on it and try to catch me out.

Flower of Scotland will not be replaced in the short or medium term simply because we Scots are still stuck in some purgatory between genial English arse-wiper and proper nationhood. We are loyal to companies with the Scottish name in it eg. bank, gas etc...

The sad reality is that for too long many of us have been content to stick a petulant two fingers upto the English via our anthem and petty support for multi-nationals guising as Scottish companies. We need to grow up, and you know what I think we might just be doing it on the quiet. The two latest opinion polls have the Nats increasing their lead.

 
At 11:42 p.m., Anonymous bill said...

Right on!

 

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