Today we will look at our national anthem. Amhran na bhfiann, or A soldiers song in English was written in1907 by Peader Kearney and Patrick Heaney. To many people’s surprise it was first written and sung in English. The Rebels in the GPO in 1916 sang A Soldiers Song, in English, to keep their sprits high. It was later sung by many of the rebels who had been interned in Wales after the rising. For the first number of years of the Free states existence there was no official national anthem. Slowly but surely A soldiers song became the National Anthem before being officially adopted in 1926. Some historians have said that the song was adopted by the people as the anthem a long time before it was adapted by the government.
Many attempts were made to translate the song into a workable Irish version. The version we have today was translated by Liam o Rinn, possibly as early as 1917. In the early 1930s great attempts were made to turn the anthem into a song that was to be solely sung in Irish. The GAA were to the forefront of these efforts printing it in match programmes and getting singers to lead the crowd in their attempts to sing it.
Like many national anthems many people throughout the years have thought that ours is overly militaristic and violent. There has also been much criticism of us, the people of Ireland, for failing to learn the anthem. Who among us can honestly say we know and understand the words? Who among us will make a special effort this year, 100 years since the 1916 rising, to learn the song that was sung by the rebels in the GPO.