Thursday 20 June 2019

John Drennan: National anthem won't lose FF lyrics


There are no government plans to remove the worlds 'Fianna Fail' from the national anthem, the Minister for Finance has revealed.

This has been an occasional source of political and linguistic contention -- with two attempts by Fine Gael-led governments during the Fifties to remove them from the song.

Last week the independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan raised the issue again -- asking Michael Noonan whether the use of the phrase 'sinne Fianna Fail' "should be re-translated in order for it not to reflect a particular political party name".

Responding to the query, however, Mr Noonan noted that an article in 1996, in History Ireland, claimed the Irish translation of The Soldiers' Song "which became generally known and used was written perhaps as early as 1917 by Liam O Rinn, who later became Chief Translator to the Oireachtas".

It was, Mr Noonan said, "O Rinn who translated the first line of the chorus, 'Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland' as: 'Sinne Fianna Fail, ata fe gheall ag Eirinn'.

Mr Noonan also provided the additional information that "before the Treaty, the Volunteers had identified themselves in Irish as descendants of Finn McCool's warriors, the Fianna, and Inis Fail was believed to be an old name for Ireland: hence 'Fianna Fail, the Soldiers of Ireland'".

The minister noted: "Volunteers wore insignia incorporating the letters FF," which were carried over, "and used by the National Army after the establishment of the Free State, and are still used on army uniforms today."

'Blue-shirts' will, however, be somewhat consoled by Mr Noonan's final observation that "this translation was made well before Eamon de Valera's founding in 1926 of the political party, which was also given the name Fianna Fail", and there "is no reflection to a political party name in the translated version of the national anthem".

Sunday Independent

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