Saturday, 22 September 2007

God Save The Queen? Bobbins!

I'm as English as they come. English to the point of boredom. As far as I'm aware there is not a trace of foreign blood within my family tree back to at least my great-grandparents. So I don't understand why I'm not all that patriotic. I classify myself as British, rather than English. You'd never catch a Celt making that mistake. Friends of mine with only the slightest bit of Welsh, Scottish or Irish heritage to speak of make a huge deal out of their roots. This despite the fact that most of them are still three-quarters English! We just don't seem to have the same sense of national identity. I suppose it's probably just a case of the majority vs the minority. The underdogs always have that extra passion that binds them together.

I ponder on this because despite all evidence to the contrary I am convinced that I must have a bit of Irish blood in me. Rugby was persuaded me as such. Ireland are second only to England in my level of enthusiastic support. And it's pretty much all due to, what up until today I thought was, their National Anthem. 'Ireland Calls' is the most rousing, brilliant piece of anthem writing to ever meet my ears. Check out these lyrics:

Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our Country's call
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland,
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We'll answer Ireland's call

Isn't it just perfect for rugby? Amazing. At least I thought so until I was informed by Wikipedia that it was written in 1995 specifically as an anthem for the Irish team! I had obviously noticed that there are often two anthems sung by the Irish before the kick-off but my simple little brain had reasoned that one was for Northern Ireland and the other for Eire. It turns out that what I had thought was the Northern Irish anthem is in fact Amhrán na bhFiann - the original Irish anthem. However, Unionists don't like the militant and potentially anti-British feeling of the lyrics. So in '95 the Irish RFU commissioned the new song. It's all rather complicated isn't it? But not to worry. I love this song and it would be even better if I was Irish! There aren't many anthems where you get to belt out your country's name in such a fashion. Plus it has its piece de resistance - a key change! If you've never heard it have a listen at the link below.

Altogether now.....#Ireland, Ireland...#

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