I recently wrote this for The Irish Times about the two men above, Peader Kearney and Patrick Heeney – the people behind Ireland’s national anthem, A Soldiers’ Song (Amhran na bhFiann in Irish). I hope you enjoy it; it’s meant to be a fun read.
As part of my research, I spent a good day in the British Library reading this biography of the poet Peader. If you’re Irish, you might want to give it a go yourself. Although be warned, it weirdly spends more time discussing Dublin’s red light district than it does Peader’s anthem!
Here’s Paddy and Peader’s original song, which was written in English – a strange choice you might think given it was meant to inspire an Irish rebellion against the UK, but that was the language everyone spoke back then. It was sung by republicans while out training. They pretended to be hurling clubs.
If you go to Ireland today, though, I wouldn’t suggest singing it this way. Go for the modern, Irish version!
Thanks for this, Alex, and I enjoyed your book on national anthems. You can read more about The Soldier’s Song/Amhran na bhFiann in my book ‘Our Own Devices: National Symbols and Political Conflict in Twentieth-Century Ireland’. It explains how the song came to be the national anthem of the Irish Free State, and some of the controversies around this.
Thanks for reading Ewan, and my apologies I didn’t come across your book before writing that piece. Will pick it up if I come back to the subject although I think I’ve read enough Peader to last a life time!
Pingback: Copyright and the National Anthem – Bonus Links | cearta.ie