Ireland Needs a New Rugby Anthem

Redefining our stance on Amhrán na bhFiann

If you’re one of those people whose toes curl into knots at the very mention of the appalling Ireland’s Call, you might have a bit of sympathy for what I’m going to suggest.  And if you believe we should sing Amhrán na bhFiann at all matches, just restrain your inner Derek Warfield for a moment or two while I explain what”s going through my mind.

You see, contrary to popular belief, only two of the six northern-hemisphere nations actually play official anthems at matches.

God Save the Queen is not the national anthem of England.

Flower of Scotland was written by Roy Williamson of The Corries.

Cwm Rhondda is a hymn.

While on the face of it, you might imagine that Ireland plays  its national anthem at home games, in reality it does not, since Amhrán na bhFiann is the anthem of the Republic, not of the unified entity that.almost uniquely, rugby has achieved.   Therefore, it’s not a national anthem either in this context, and even if the island became politically unified, there’s no possibility that this song would become the agreed anthem.  Besides, it’s an awful depressing dirge.

Now, whatever you might think of the Marseillaise lyrics, it’s hard to deny that this is the best national anthem in the world.  Everyone knows the tune.  It’s stirring, it’s lively and it’s the obvious choice, though on the other hand, the less said about the Italian anthem the better and you can see where they get in the Six Nations.

What am I getting at?


If Germany joined a new Seven Nations competition, they’d have the marvellous Pilgrim’s Chorus from Tannhäuser and we need something equally stirring.

There’s no need for a political anthem to represent Irish rugby, which is one of the least political movements in modern Ireland and one of the most genuinely unifying.  Therefore, instead of insisting on the Soldier’s Song, why not find a rousing, stirring, passionate rugby anthem that all supporters could adopt, just as the Scots adopted Flower of Scotland?

Ireland’s Call is not that song, but maybe we here in Limerick have the answer.

What would be wrong with The Isle?

26 thoughts on “Ireland Needs a New Rugby Anthem

  1. Bock – agree with your sentiments but would point out that Welsh anthem Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and Cwm Rhondda are different songs. Can’t really recall hearing Cwm Rhondda at a Wales game in a few years

  2. I’ve always thought those two national anthems for the Irish rugby team are dire…
    Along with that moaning funeral like a cat wailing song… the fields of athenry….. oh I fuckin hate it
    That’s just my opinion….

    There is an isle… is just class, and more suitable….

  3. Agree both of the existing ones are dire. The Isle doesn’t really float my boat either though.

  4. Aviron Bayonnais have the best rugby anthem – La Pena Baiona!

    (You will even hear it at the odd French match)

  5. As you say Bock; Cwm Rhondda is a hymn, but it’s not the Welsh National Anthem. Hen Wlad fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers) is the Welsh Anthem.
    Well done Ireland; deservedly champions.

  6. I don’t understand what people have against Ireland’s Call but I guess its a matter of taste.

    However I do think if ever this island becomes politically united then I think The Isle would be a fitting anthem

  7. Bock, take a bow…excellent idea…

    Now all we gotta do is convince the South Dubs that a famous Limerick Song should be used as our rugby anthem…that should be straight forward right? The south Dubs love Limerick and all things Limerick right??

  8. The south Dubs love Limerick and all things Limerick right?..

    And we love the Tallifornians…
    Love all things No-Jobstown,as did Joany.

  9. And here was me thinking the Tallifornians were South Dubs…so too Jobstown…charming people one and all!!

  10. What about the question of whether the Irish rugby anthem should be in the Irish language.

    Or is that a taboo question in a rugby context?

  11. I think ‘There Is An Isle’ would be the perfect rugby anthem for Ireland. It could appeal to the Nordies because it is a Scottish poem with stirring music written in the ’30s or ’40s by a woman who taught in Newcastlewest.

    However, that’s not a great version version Bock, Davern makes the fatal error of going for the major instead of the minor on the line “…Where all around is fresh and fair” and ruins it.

    The sound is shite and the beginning is clipped but THIS is how to sing ‘The Isle’

    Think about a choir leading 50-odd thousand at Lansdowne of an afternoon.

  12. I did search but found nothing better, plus a lot of version make that same major/minor mistake.

  13. How about “All Kinds of Everything” before Ireland rugger matches? Or kindergarten Ludo championships maybe?

  14. There is an isle might be a good choice except for one problem. There is nothing in the title or lyrics to indicate which isle is in question. The song could be about anywhere. The anthem of the Irish rugby team should evoke an attachment to or identification with the island of Ireland in particular.

    As well as that, many of the best songs, poems, stories and novels – in other words, poetry in the broadest sense – have a distinct sense of place. It is not a necessary condition for the literary arts in general but it is arguably a necessary condition for the kind of anthem we’re discussing here.

    To quote Bill the Bard:

    The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
    Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.
    And as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
    Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name.

  15. Is not “ There Is An Isle” a Shannon RFC song? The Cookies would go all Islamic State on yo ass straight off.

    Very partisan the Cookies. Whilst attending a match at the Killing Fields, also informally called Tom Clifford Park, recently one supporter was advising officials, at the top of his lungs, that the opposition were “at it all day, ref!”

    They match was three minutes old…… Things can get fairly lively on that side of town, as we discovered when lining out in a football match and the opposition started the game with 14 players.

    “It has nothing to do with me,” insisted the ref.

    They were using the revolutionary 4-4-4 system.

    Many top Premier Division bosses were thinking of adopting same, but John Giles spotted a technical flaw.

    Last Saturday was a day of extraordinary theatre, but in most normal sports those games would have been played simultaneously. England knew exactly what they had to do to win the title and deny Ireland, as Paddy did to close the door on Wales.

    Basically, England were handed an advantage by being drawn in the last match, and they almost nicked it by a solitary point. One converted try would have clinched it for Perfidious Albion and we would have all been wailing into our pints about Cromwell, the Famine, Slade, the Black n’ Tans and Marty Morrissey.

    Le Frogs won it for us to a certain extent, for les Anglias would now be celebrating if Pierre had shoulder-shrugged his way through the match.

    Meanwhile, Scotland and Italy should be booted out of the tournament for bringing the game into disrepute.

    The Azzurri have won only a handful of six-nations matches since Caesar crosses the Rubicon in 49 BC, while the Scots, with the exception of a small number of players, are experiencing technical difficulties – as in they’re fucking useless.

    Anthems, what can you do with them. The English boxing team, which is more or less Irish, usually stand to land of Hope and Glory, a fine old tune, much better than God Save Her Indoors, and it doesn’t antagonise people.

    Charles will ascend the throne eventually and they’ll switch to God Save The King, I assume, unless he does a Frank Maloney.

    But who would want to save Charles from anything?

  16. Do you like cliches?

    So Scotland and Italy have brought the game into disrepute and should be booted out. Why not France? They conceded 55 points and 7 tries in one match yet are deemed to have put up a fight. France have lost to Italy twice in recent years in the 6N, Ireland have also been beaten, why not boot us out also?

  17. That’s not a bad idea. Why not boot everyone out, and there will be no need for an anthem?

    Problem solved.

  18. Congratulations to southpaw Andy Lee, current WBO World middleweight champ, on being voted Limerick Man of the Year this week. Ireland’s only boxer at the 2004 Olympics
    defends his title versus Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin in New York next month.

    London-born Lee was being chased by England to box for the Three Lions, but insisted that he wanted to trade leather for the auld sod. Maybe England’s seconds should have taken the hint when he adopted the nickname “Irish Andy Lee”………

    Tony Ward admitted that it was his “greatest personal achievement” to receive the Honorary Limerick Man title.

    MEANWHILE, JOE SCHMIDT believes that England will test Ireland’s Six Nations ambitions next season.

    But the Irish boss believes that his side has what it takes to see off the Red Rose challenge and remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

    “If we finish top of the table, we will remain bottom of that table, which is an ambition of ours. England are obviously eager to hit the basement and usurp our position, but, as said,
    if neither side finish bottom of the table, England will never fully realise their ambitions of finishing bottom of that table because of alphabetical order, “ he explained.

    Going forward?

    “Yeah, sure.”

    Elsewhere, Italy and Scotland are expressing quite confidence that they can add to their impressive collections next term.

    Schmidt added:“Italy and Scotland, with the exception of one or two occasions, have commanded the top two positions. The league table doesn’t lie they say, and you’ve got to admire that level of consistency, particularly in the professional era.”

    Wooden Spoon Table Six Nations 2000/2015

    Italy (10) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014
    Scotland (4) 2004, 2007, 2012, 2015
    Wales (1) 2003
    France (1) 2013
    England 0
    Ireland 0

  19. By a lonely prison wall….say what you might, but it’s the one song completely associated with irish rugby, and frequently heard at Irish matches….It gets my vote!

  20. When Ireland’s Call was scratched down on the beck of the fag packet(10 pack) they missed the opportunity to include a reference to what we are all taking about here i.e. balls.

    The line ‘…. answer Ireland’s call”….ought to have been preceded by the line “….We’re running with the ball to…. answer….Ireland’s Call”.

    Since the days of Fred Cogley (RIP ?) et all the only time one tends to hear so called national anthems is at sporting events which in the main involve a ball of some sort. Why we cannot acknowledge how important our balls actually are is beyond me…

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