A new national anthem?


A chara, – Andy Pollak demands that the “militaristic, nationalistic language of Amhrán na bhFiann will have to go” (Rite & Reason, March 10th).

While we’re about it, perhaps our neighbours in England might get rid of those offensive references in their anthem to scattering their enemies and crushing rebellious Scots.

The French should certainly give up that blood-curdling call, “Aux armes, citoyens” .

Your columnist seems to argue that if we want unity we must become unionists and give up that old guff about fighting for freedom.

Sure, weren’t the English only here to bring us civilisation?

Mr Pollak also stresses that he’s a Northern Presbyterian (though whether or not he’s in the tradition of Henry Joy McCracken, William Orr, John Mitchell or Seóirse MacNiocaill, I’m not sure).

Perhaps we could reach a compromise and put forward a song written by an Irish Protestant. Thomas Davis’s A Nation Once Again springs to mind, but is that too nationalistic for some? – Is mise,


Baile Átha Cliath 22.

Sir, – There was some talk at one stage (before my time) of having the song Pé in Éirinn Í as a national anthem. The words and music are superior to Amhrán na bhFiann in every respect. Indeed, it is one of many Irish folk songs which some musicologists would properly call a Kunstlied, or art song – and one of the finest of its type.

A cursory internet search reveals wonderful interpretations of this golden song from such musical luminaries as Muireann Nic Amhalibh, Na Casaidigh, Pádraig Ó Cearbhaill and Séamas Begley.

Apart from its astonishing beauty, it fills the appreciative listener with its eternal harmonies - in contrast to the belligerence and crassness of the current anthem. I would love to see it adopted.

One slight disadvantage it may have is that it could very easily bathe the souls of rugby players and their followers in such mellifluousness that the very thought of tackling another human being, even in sport, would melt away in the ether. – Yours, etc,


Gleann na gCaorach,

Co Átha Cliath.

Sir, – The debate around this subject seems to be over the lyrics in the current anthem. If a new anthem is composed, why should it have any lyrics at all? The Spanish seem to get by with a wordless anthem. – Yours, etc,


Naas ,

Co Kildare.