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The fields of Athenry

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 10:25:55 AM EST

Irish supporters are our best ambassadors | Frank Schnittger: Irish Examiner

Far from being disgraced by losing 4-0 to an outstanding Spanish team, the Irish team fought to the end, and the Irish supporters were simply magnificent.

Too bad the Irish supporters can't represent Ireland in the Eurovision song contest.

Angela Merkel may think the Irish should be at home working, but instead we have sent out 40,000 ambassadors to prove that sportsmanship and solidarity in Europe is not dead.

There has been some cynical comment about the Irish being glorious in defeat once again; about how pathetic it is to be singing songs in the wake of a comprehensive trashing by the World Champions. But the spirited rendition of The fields of Athenry in the final minutes and long after the match had ended had to be seen and heard to be believed: How often is it that boos, catcalls and various missiles greet a defeated football team long before the end of a match. How often does sporting defeat lead to wanton vandalism and violence on the part of so called supporters.

To quote an Englishman: G. K. Chesterton

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad

Irish sports supporters have distinguished themselves for many years by their good humour and good grace under pressure, despite often being ripped off by profiteering airlines or hoteliers or threatened by over zealous security personnel. The Troika may well want to investigate how up to 40,000 Irish supporters can afford to make it to Poland in the midst of a frightening depression: But they need not over-concern themselves. For many sports fans, following the Irish soccer or rugby teams is the one indulgence they allow themselves.

Gaelic Games are still the pre-eminent sport in Ireland, but they lack a truly international dimension (despite also being played mainly by expats in the Irish diaspora around the world). If you want to show solidarity with your country or your province abroad and have a good time whilst doing it, following your team around Europe is as good a way of doing it as any.

And it is not as if this makes a fetish of defeatism. The current Irish soccer team may be one of the least talented ever to have represented the country; but their commitment to the cause cannot be doubted. Their great achievement was to qualify for the finals in the first place - especially after the way in which the infamous Thierry Henry handball goal had eliminated them from the World Cup. However in rugby, Munster and Leinster have dominated the European Cup in recent seasons, and the Irish Rugby team has just lost to the World Champions, New Zealand, by only a last minute drop goal in Christchurch. Almost no one beats the All Blacks on their own turf.

However there is no talk of "moral victories" now. The players were devastated in defeat and will no doubt rise again. The common factor in all these victories and defeats has been the exemplary conduct of the supporters: well lubricated, no doubt, but not in a way to turn nasty or morose.  It's what sport should be all about. Having a good time, encouraging your team, and living to fight another day. If only we had a bit more of such social solidarity in the Europe of today.

To quote the quintessential englishman: If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

The Celtic Lyrics Collection - Lyrics - The Fields of Athenry
The Fields of Athenry by Pete St. John

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Micheal they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn's corn
So the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matter Mary when your free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely harbor wall
She watched the last star falling
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

Or if you prefer the Dubliners version:

Who says you shouldn't mix sport, politics and culture?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 10:55:40 AM EST
Ah, you cleared my ignorance, thanks!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 01:09:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Refreshing diary. Thanks.
by Euroliberal on Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 11:46:07 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 01:33:19 PM EST
And its a fine song too.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 05:22:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheeky Merkel tricolour sold at auction - The Irish Times - Fri, Jun 22, 2012
A cheeky football banner designed by Irish fans that made headlines across the world has been sold at auction for almost €16,000.

Irish football fans first unveiled the "Angela Merkel Thinks We're At Work" tricolour at Dublin airport earlier this month while en route to Poland for Euro 2012.

The banner went viral on social networking sites before reaching the front page of two Irish national newspapers, the BBC website, US television and even on to Germany's best-selling newspaper, Bild.

The six University of Limerick graduates who uploaded the original picture auctioned the banner on RTÉ radio this morning with all funds raised going to good causes.

The tricolour was won by Antrim-based Glendun Group and Iris R&D, who submitted a joint bid totalling €15,800.

Well-known Dublin pub Copper Face Jacks, who submitted a losing bid, donated a further €5,000.

The funds are to be split between the Children's Medical and Research Foundation in Dublin and the Oscar Appeal, set up to help provide treatment for Oscar Knox, a three-year-old Belfast boy with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops from nerve tissue.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2012 at 11:16:38 AM EST
FAI dedicate fans award to memory of James Nolan

(Irish Times) - The father of a young Irishman who drowned while at Euro 2012 has said it is a great honour to have a Uefa award dedicated to his son. James Nolan's father Jimmy thanked Ireland supporters who have been recognised with a special tribute for being the best fans during their short-lived spell at the competition.

"I am deeply touched by this," Mr Nolan said. "It is a great honour and I would like to thank the amazing support that we have received at this difficult time from supporters of Ireland in every part of the world."

 Mr Nolan's 21-year-old son drowned in the River Brda in the town of Bydgoszcz in Poland the weekend before Ireland's final match against Italy in Poznan. The engineering student had been travelling with a group of friends and stopped in the town en route to the game when he went missing. His funeral took place earlier this week in Blessington.

Mourners hear of 'one in a million' football fan

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Sun Jul 1st, 2012 at 02:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He lived just a mile from my home, although I diodn't know him personally. Members of the Irish soccer squad attended his funeral. Soccer is still a community sport in Ireland and not entirely commercialised.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 1st, 2012 at 07:34:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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