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".