“Ireland’s Call“ is a song commissioned by the Irish Rugby Football Union for use at international Rugby Union fixtures. It has since also been adopted by the Irish Hockey, Cricket, Rugby League and A1GP teams.
While “Amhrán na bhFiann” (“The Soldier’s Song”) is the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland, its use arouses sensitivities among those with Unionist sympathies in Northern Ireland. Equally, the national anthem of Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, is “God Save The Queen“, which is sensitive among those with Nationalist sympathies.
At matches played in the Republic, both “Amhrán na bhFiann” (as the anthem of the Republic of Ireland) and “Ireland’s Call” (as the anthem of the home (Irish) team) are sung. Elsewhere, “Ireland’s Call” is the only anthem used in recognition of the need for a unifying anthem.
At most games today, only the first verse is sung, followed by the chorus in the same key. The chorus is then repeated in a higher key; at the end, the last line is repeated.
The song was written by Phil Coulter in 1995. He composed it because he loved hearing a combination of the Irish accents singing together.
It was first broadcast simultaneously in Northern Ireland on the Kelly show and in the Republic of Ireland on Gay Byrne‘s Late Late Show, sung by Andrew Strong, singer in the film The Commitments, accompanied by Portadown Male Voice Choir. Phil has rewritten the lyrics to be sung in the Celtic Thunder singing tour, where he has collaborated with Sharon Browne, the Original Producer of Celtic Woman. The rewritten lyrics have a somewhat more martial theme, with lines like “meet our destiny with glory” and “Till our final requiem is spoken”
Since its creation, there has been an ongoing debate in Irish society over the song – both in terms of its political suitability, and in terms of the quality of the composition. This tends to come to a head during each Rugby World Cup – the only time the Irish team plays a succession of matches away from home, and hence, when “Ireland’s Call” is most prominently used.
In the wake of Ireland’s game against England at Croke Park in the 2007 Six Nations championship, commentators in the Irish media talked about how powerful the rendition of the anthem was: “Amhrán na bhFiann” and “Ireland’s Call” were belted out with such hair-raising intensity that men and women were crying as they sang.