history of our national anthem
How many of us must have felt a great sense of pride as
we viewed the parade on Easter Monday 2006 as the soldiers
of Ireland moved through the streets of Dublin. How vast
the difference as we watched the men in green march into
O'Connell Street on Easter Monday 2006 and the group of
men who marched up O'Connell Street (then Sackville Street)
on Easter Monday 1916. On that week in 1916, many good Irishmen
gave their lives for their country. How different from today
when members of the Irish army work in a peacekeeping capacity
through the United Nations to save lives in other countries.
How proud we now feel as Irish people to stand and hear
our own National Anthem ring out over the Dublin streets.
Speaking of the National Anthem, how many of us know its
origin or the many questions now being asked about its suitability
on certain occasions? Before our present National Anthem
was adopted, "God Save Ireland" was the unofficial
anthem used by the Fenians and the official anthem was "God
Save the King" until the Irish Free State was established
in 1922. The official anthem was seldom sung by nationalists.
The words of our anthem were written in1907 and published
in The Irish Freedom newspaper in 1912. It consisted of
three stanzas and a chorus. The chorus was adopted as the
National Anthem in 1926 and thus replaced the unofficial
"God Save Ireland". Our anthem, Amhran na bhFiann,
was relatively unknown until it was sung by the rebels in
the GPO during the Easter rising in 1916 and later in the
British internment camps. In 1934 Ireland acquired the copyright
of the song for the amount of £1,200 (1523.69).
The national anthem is considered by nationalists as the
national anthem of the 32 counties and it is sung at all
GAA matches and other national functions. The first two
lines are played together to form the Presidential Salute
and this is played when the President of Ireland attends
an official event. The song "Ireland's Call" which
was composed by Phil Coulter is used by the Irish Rugby
There is a move afoot at the present time to replace the
National Anthem with a new one. There is a feeling that
the words are militant and anti-British. It has also been
pointed out that the melody is difficult to play, sometimes
the whole song has been played rather than the chorus, or
that it has been played at the wrong tempo - this has happened
at recent Olympic games.
While most of Ireland's troubles in the last number of years
have been connected with the dividing of our island into
26 counties of the Republic and the six counties of Northern
Ireland, which are still under British rule, strange as
it may seem, 32 counties were selected and named by the
British Government as far back as the early 13th century.
In the year 1210, King John of England established the 12
counties of Dublin, Meath, Louth, Carlow, Wexford, Kilkenny,
Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary. During the
reign of Queen Mary in the 16th century, the Queen's County
(now Laois) and the King's county (now Offaly) were formed.
About the middle of the 16th century, Sir Henry Sidney formed
Longford and the counties of Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon,
Leitrim and Clare.
Clare was later included in the Munster province. Around
the year 1584 the Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrot formed the
seven counties of Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone, Donegal, Fermanagh,
Cavan and Coleraine, which was later to be called Co. Derry.
The other two counties Antrim and Down were already in existence.
All of these total 30 counties and during the reign of King
Henry VIII, Co. Meath was divided into two - Meath and Co.
Wicklow (Ireland's youngest county) was formed in 1665 by
SIr Arthur Chichester who took parts of Co. Dublin, Co.
Kildare, Co. Carlow, and Co. Wexford to form this new county.
This gives us the present 32 counties of Ireland. In the
parish of Donegal, counties Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford
meet with roughly 9,000 acres of the parish in each county.
At present, Ireland is a country containing two National
Anthems and it is the ardent hope of most nationalists that
she well end up as one united country with one National
Courtesy of Willie White and The Carlow Nationalist