My yellow card to critics of footballers singing THAT song…

My family received devastating news last week, news which has quite literally broken our hearts and news which I will, when I feel able, share with you – because I know what happened to us has also very likely happened to many of my readers’ families.

However, as a result of our situation, we were kind of oblivious to the furore, the hoo-ha, and the commotion surrounding what was a group of young ladies who’d just won an important football match innocently celebrating by singing a ditty in their dressing room.

As a proud Irish woman, I have to say the shenanigans didn’t escape me fully for the simple reason that it, er, hasn’t gone away due to hypersensitive people refusing to allow it do so!

Yes folks, it seems our Republic of Ireland football team’s 1-0 victory over Scotland to qualify for the Women’s World Cup has been turned into an international scandal – not because these amazing ladies have made history, nay nay – because they had the temerity to celebrate by singing a harmless ditty.

The much-loved, traditional Irish ditty at the centre of the scandal is the wonderful ‘Celtic Symphony’. It was written and performed by iconic group Wolfe Tones’ member Brian Warfield in 1987 in commemoration of the centenary of Celtic Football Club, which fell a year later in 1988. This is a song I’ve sung myself many times and – may I add – it’s a song I will continue to sing!

Oh but it was not so much the song itself which upset the snowflakes. Nay, nay readers, rather it was the refrain, ‘ooh, aah, up the ‘Ra’, a line the talented Mr Warfield explains was taken from graffiti he saw on a wall in Glasgow, which read ‘we’re magic, up the Celts, ooh, aah, up the ‘Ra’, and was not referring to the Provisional IRA and the devastation and terrorism they carried out. It’s claimed it referred to the Old IRA, formed in 1919 and made up of members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army who fought against the British in our War of Independence.

So there you have it! Inquisition closed. However, this well-written little chorus has hurt the sensitivities of some people.

To put some perspective on last week’s victory for our girls in green, the incident was a far cry from 2017 when fourteen players from the Republic of Ireland women’s football team were forced to make a stand at Dublin’s Liberty Hall to highlight the dreadful treatment they’d been receiving at the hands of the FAI. ‘Treated like fifth class citizens’ was how they’d put it, when, among other issues, they faced the ‘humiliation’ of having to go into public toilets to change into official tracksuits for international games, changing back out of them again because they had to be ‘handed back for use by other teams’. Now, rather than being allowed to bask in their glory and sing a celebratory song, the team have not just been hounded by some of our begrudging neighbours, and by many politicians across the border and across the water, they’ve also been thrown under a bus by the FAI.

By profoundly and profusely apologising for any offence caused by the Irish players singing the song in question, the FAI has shown its true colours…yellow!

These ladies were not intentionally hurting anyone, they were singing a song in the same way as Scottish football fans sing Rule Britannia… a so-called ‘patriotic song’, which by the way, could be construed as containing perceived references to slavery and colonialism. Does the curse that was Cromwell, the Great Famine, the estimated 130,000 Irish people shipped into slavery in America and the West Indies during the years of 1651-1660 by the British ring a bell for anyone? I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Celtic Symphony is a song which, like thousands of others, contains a few lines that some people dislike and find offensive (as is their right). But, how can I put it…get over it! It’s impossible to put a figure on the amount of Irish people who’ve suffered intolerable cruelties as a result of British injustice, and even though we know it was massive, we don’t make a federal case out of some of their teams singing their racist lyrics! Let’s stop apologising on this, now!


My tips for keeping your fur babies safe during Halloween

The Oíche Shamhna countdown is on, and with it comes trick or treating for the little ones, meaning our homes will likely be filled with loud noises, banging doors, ringing bells – and of course, lots of goodies that will likely prove hazardous to our pets.

It is with that sentiment in mind that as a pet parent, I’d like to offer, if I may, a few of my own useful tips for keeping those fur babies safe and well during what I call the festival of ghosts, ghouls, gobstoppers, gummy bears and mini-galaxy bars! Here’s what I suggest:

Your stash of goodies is for the kiddies, not the doggies or the kitties, so store them out of harm’s way. Remember, many treats are toxic to pets with chocolate, in every form, especially dark and cooking varieties and sweets and bars containing the sugar substitute xylitol being particularly dangerous, causing serious health issues to dogs and cats if ingested – in some circumstances, even resulting in a pet’s death.

During the week, I’ve seen many a creatively carved, candlelit pumpkin displayed in windows, but do bear in mind these can pose a fire hazard, especially if your curious kitty or puppy decides to investigate and accidentally knock them over, resulting in the possibility of their little bodies getting burned or singed.

Ease off on the pets’ Halloween costumes folks, for the simple reason that if your fur baby doesn’t normally wear clothing, it may cause them a level of upset and distress, especially if it limits their movements. Costumes – due to dangly bits and bobs – are also a choking hazard as they can easily be chewed off and swallowed.

Strangers calling to your door wearing masks can prove scary for your pets, so keep them calm and safe in a separate room far away from the front door. If you’re walking your dog, keep him/her on a lead and make sure he/she has proper identification, and is microchipped; the same goes for your kitties who should be secured and not allowed to roam during Halloween!

I’m merely sharing my pet safety suggestions with readers as a form of guidance, however please do seek the advice of your veterinarian, who is not just an expert in these matters, but who will be happy to help you to navigate your precious fur babies safely through the festivities. In addition, if you have farm animals or horses/donkeys, do make absolutely sure they’re safely secured and sheltered from the fireworks, the bonfires and the bangers.


Get the Junior Cert results sorted, Minister

Five weeks after the Junior Cert results should have been released, the Department of Education has admitted the marking of the examination papers is ‘still not complete’. What a shambles!

68,000 students – my granddaughter being one of them – are affected by this fiasco, with each of them and their families not having a clue as to when they might know how they did.

Many of those who have completed the Junior Cert exams have now entered fifth year, meaning they’re preparing for the Leaving Cert, and this delay must surely be causing them a lot of stress and uncertainty.

I’m not sure about you readers, but as far as I’m concerned, the Department’s answer – that in a “small number of subjects, in which the examiner supply challenges were most acute, it was not possible to complete the marking and the marking process is ongoing” – is both unacceptable and insulting.

It’s not good enough, Norma Foley. Get your act together and get it sorted!

*Editor’s note: On Tuesday (after this column was submitted) the State Examinations Commission (SEC) announced its intention to issue the 2022 Junior Cycle examination results on Wednesday, 23rd of November 2022.