Why do Ireland have two national anthems?
Rugby fans will have their drinks chilling and snacks at the ready for the two Six Nations games today.
One thing you may notice is that the Irish rugby team sing two different national anthems before the game. The reason for this has a lot to do with Ireland’s troubled past.
The two anthems are Ireland’s Call and Amhrán na bhFiann (Soldier’s Song).
Amhrán na bhFiann is officially the Irish national anthem, and was composed by Peader Kearney and Patrick Heeney around 1909 or 1910 according to records.
There has always been tension regarding the song, with during the Irish War of Independence between 1919 and 1921 it was even dubbed the Sinn Fein anthem.
These tensions became even worse in the late 80s, particular when an IRA roadside bomb damaged a car carrying three of the Irish rugby squad travelling from Belfast to Dublin for training (with player Nigel Carr having to end his rugby career due to injuries).
In response to this, a new song was commissioned for the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.
Phil Coulter penned Ireland’s Call in April of that year as an alternative without the political connotations.