The Dropkick Murphys, ‘The Fields of Athenry’ from Blackout
One thing Irish-Americans have apparently got right: the best of Ireland, and the Irish spirit, is atavistic traditionalism.
Following a 4-0 defeat to Spain, the Irish fans in the Gdansk stadium launched into this. The ‘Fields of Athenry’ is one of the quintessential Irish sport songs, I would have thought more particularly for rugby than soccer, but I guess in this case ‘Olé olé olé’ isn’t appropriate. It’s stirring and wistful and really quite a beautiful song, so it’s completely understandable that it’s hardwired into Irish fans and gives them a lusty solace; but it’s also about the Famine and rebelling against the (British) Crown, the morality of being deported for appropriating food to ensure survival, and the love of the land and, above all, the past.
“Where once we watched the free birds fly” - it’s notable that in our lyric tradition the Irish people have not achieved freedom (which means we escape its fetishization in the American fashion of libertarianism) but continually view it as on object to be wrested from (Britain, Europe, Germany…), and very seldom as something to do with. Where are our creative freedoms, and even our slowly-won social ones, when our economic freedom - a liberalised structure of global capitalism - has come crashing down around us?