Inspired by an outing to a stadium - where she realised that she (and those around her) didn’t know the words past the second line of ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’, and on discovering that there are no other books out there written about the anthem, Rachel J. Cooper of Abair Linn publishing was inspired to write a children’s book teaching children all about it.
She has started a nationwide initiative to learn the Irish national anthem. It started with a competition for national schools to learn ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’.
Rachel has also released ‘Our Irish Heritage - A Kid’s Guide to the Irish Diaspora and Irish National Anthem’ because she believes that children of the Irish diaspora starting with the US would benefit from a book that, firstly, introduces them to the word ‘diaspora’ and its meaning, and secondly to teach them perhaps their first song as Gaelige - ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’. She is developing further books for other members of the Irish diaspora worldwide.
About ‘Our National Anthem’:
“It is no secret that unfortunately most of us don’t know the words to our own national anthem ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ or ‘The Soldier’s Song’.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if all Irish children in the future knew their national anthem for life? Singing it with depth of feeling and pronouncing every word correctly?” says Rachel.”
“A few years back, I went to a sports match and during the singing of the national anthem I realised that I didn’t know the words past the second line. I also realised that people around me were mumbling uncomfortably or looking at their phones. I then embarked on some minor research; asking people in general if they could sing the words starting with family and friends? Very few could,” she adds.
“I asked parents if their children were learning it in school. The answer was children usually get a photocopy of the lyrics and learn the words before St. Patrick’s Day. They quickly forget the words after that.”
“Our national anthem is the most important song written as Gaeilge that there is. We should know the words off by heart and not be shying away from it. I have written ‘Our National Anthem’ - a book tailored to 2nd to 5th class children with stories about Ireland, along with inclusive themes to ensure all Irish children are included in learning about their national anthem.” Rachel adds.