National Anthems

0
Have your say

Peadar Ó Cearnaigh died on 24 November 1942. He wrote the original English version of ‘The Soldiers’ Song’, along with Pádraig Ó hAonaigh. Ó Cearnaigh was not as famous as his nephew, the playwright Brendan Behan. He lived in poverty and was unemployed for much of his life.

National anthems are often controversial. We saw this in Stormont recently when an MLA decided to include the British national anthem in a commemoration ceremony, uninvited and without permission. We heard the French national anthem being sung frequently this week to show solidarity after the attacks in Paris.

The words of national anthems often cause annoyance. A slight change was made in the Irish version of ‘The Soldiers’ Song’. ‘Sinne Laochra Fáil’ is sung now instead of ‘Sinne Fianna Fáil’. I think this had something to do with politics. Some people would like to change other words: they are not happy with references to guns and bullets and the like. They would prefer a version with a more peaceful theme. Many French people would like to replace the Marseillaise. They don’t like singing, ’Take up arms, citizens, form your battalions! Forward march! Let our fields be soaked in impure blood!’ – words that date from the time of the French Revolution. Only one verse of the German national anthem is sung officially now for political reasons.

Incidentally, Fr. Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh did a very good translation of the American national anthem, ‘The Star-spangled Banner’:

‘Oh! Say can you see by the dawn’s early light / What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?’

Although some national anthems are out dated, they are community symbols and therefore deserve respect. A national anthem, or any other symbol, should not be used to antagonise others. A community’s symbols shed light on its history and can be used to promote mutual understanding.

Peadar Ó Cearnaigh died on 24 November 1942. He wrote the original English version of ‘The Soldiers’ Song’, along with Pádraig Ó hAonaigh. Ó Cearnaigh was not as famous as his nephew, the playwright Brendan Behan. He lived in poverty and was unemployed for much of his life.

National anthems are often controversial. We saw this in Stormont recently when an MLA decided to include the British national anthem in a commemoration ceremony, uninvited and without permission. We heard the French national anthem being sung frequently this week to show solidarity after the attacks in Paris.

The words of national anthems often cause annoyance. A slight change was made in the Irish version of ‘The Soldiers’ Song’. ‘Sinne Laochra Fáil’ is sung now instead of ‘Sinne Fianna Fáil’. I think this had something to do with politics. Some people would like to change other words: they are not happy with references to guns and bullets and the like. They would prefer a version with a more peaceful theme. Many French people would like to replace the Marseillaise. They don’t like singing, ’Take up arms, citizens, form your battalions! Forward march! Let our fields be soaked in impure blood!’ – words that date from the time of the French Revolution. Only one verse of the German national anthem is sung officially now for political reasons.

Incidentally, Fr. Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh did a very good translation of the American national anthem, ‘The Star-spangled Banner’:

‘Oh! Say can you see by the dawn’s early light / What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?’

Although some national anthems are out dated, they are community symbols and therefore deserve respect. A national anthem, or any other symbol, should not be used to antagonise others. A community’s symbols shed light on its history and can be used to promote mutual understanding.