independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Kim Bielenberg: Stand up please for the national anthem rap as copyright expires

Our national anthem could now be used for everything from selling soap powder to a comedy rap. It has been reported that the copyright to Amhrann na bhFiann has just expired.

Unless the government moves quickly to renew the copyright we could hear it on jingles and on mobile ringtones.







We could be hearing The Soldier’s Song when we are banging the table while we are put on hold.







The song’s detractors might argue that it is bad enough hearing it at international sporting events. Could we possibly suffer any more of Amhrann na bhFiann?







The Government’s ownership of copyright to the Soldier’s Song expired at the end of the 2012, 70 years after the death of its lyricist Peadar Kearney.







It has to be admitted that The Soldier’s Song is not one of the most rousing anthems in the world.







Kearney’s original English version declared:



“In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal



Mid cannons’ roar and rifles’ peal



We’ll chant a soldier’s song.”







But mostly at big sporting events, if the players and fans join in at all, the song rapidly descends into an extended mumble that looks and sounds like it is being sung by Mr Bean.







Winning an international cap offers no guarantee that an eager young player will join in with gusto.







Many an Irish international footballer has heard the anthem for the first time when they put on the green shirt.







In the mid-seventies, the out-and-out cockney Terry Mancini made his debut for Ireland, and was singularly unimpressed when the band struck up the tune.







“Their anthem does go on a bit,” Mancini was overheard saying to team mate Don Givens.







“Be quiet, it’s ours!’’ replied Givens.







Over the years there have plenty of calls for the anthem to be revised or replaced. Some claim to dislike it because they see it as too militaristic, but would we be bothered if it had a decent tune?







The French Marseillaise tells of “ferocious soldiers’’ who “come into your arms to butcher your sons and your wives”.







The French would never consider replacing these blood-curdling lines with something a little more sedate.







Although it has some adherents, our international rugby anthem Ireland’s Call has only enjoyed mixed success and has been dismissed as trite.







Another alternative , The Fields of Athenry, is guaranteed to get the crowd singing. But for many it is now just a sad reminder of the night in June of last year at the Euros in Gdansk when we were thumped 4-0 by Spain, and the Irish crowd just kept on singing the ballad.







After that performance some genuine fans could not bear to hear the song again.





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