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Antiphonal Republic

Connell Vaughan

To cite this contribution:

Vaughan, Connell. ‘Antiphonal Republic.’ OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform Issue 1 (2017),

[W]e will do well if…we Orphically sing…Am Énflaith1


There is a kingdom – both literal and imaginary – within Ireland’s republic. This translucent place birthed a philosopher: John Moriarty (1938–2007). Inspired by Ireland’s ancient lyrical mythology and bardic tradition, and further informed by a prodigious transcultural and global ‘walkabout’, Moriarty argues for the baptism and rebaptism of community spirit, in Ireland and further afield, through song.2 Referring to the Irish myth of High King Conaire Mhór who established a birdreign (Ind Énflaith), where ecumenical harmony between all peoples and living creatures existed, Moriarty conceives of an imaginary space into which we are initiated through song. Moriarty explicitly invokes us to sing into being a new republic, a New Ireland, a new mind founded on sensations and embracing ‘dimensions that would embarrass Einstein’ by sketching a global larder-like ‘Dreamtime’ to which we can return for restoration.3

Moriarty’s application of our shared past is consistently grounded in the local. This local is not the almost immovable Irish county boundary. Neither is it the existent nation state. The current political and cultural divisions, be they at the county level or the state level, will not find valorisation in Moriarty’s invocation. On the other hand, specific sites which are imbued with mythological power were revived. Such sites are not, in the eyes of Moriarty, pinned to the peculiarities of place but rather contained universal significance.

The scale of Moriarty’s personal engagement with his ‘Dreamtime’ archive includes classical sites such as Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, and further afield locations such as Varanasi, the Kwakiutl coast and Manitoba. Such a gathering is a resource to be applied in contemporary living, not a canon to be merely admired.

The Bhagavad Gita, the Song of the God that Mannannán, god of the sea, sang to us at sea – that he could as easily sing to us in New York or in Tokyo, because reality there is as immaculate as it is here this morning in the mountains of Kerry. Banbha, Fódhla and Éire are immaculate dimensions of New York as much as they are immaculate dimensions of the furze-yellow world between me and Torc Mountain. Silver branch perception is as possible in the Ruhr Valley as it is here.4

Moriarty was educated in Dublin and taught English literature in Canada for six years before returning to Ireland in 1971. His resulting perspective privileged the role of song as a gateway for citizens to remake and reshape the world. His voluminous and dense writings treated song and singing as the site of radical personal, communal and national renewal. This paper is an attempt to address his methodology to our contemporary situation. Currently Ireland is in the midst of a decade of contentious centenary commemorations (2012–23).5 Furthermore, post Brexit, and with the spectre of a so-called ‘hard-border’, the nature of Ireland’s existential constitution has been revived for the first time in a generation.

The anthem, when considered as a dynamic site, as opposed to a static symbol, might expand the zone of the Republic to different temporal and spatial contexts. In the spirit of an enquiry into ‘sites of research’, this paper therefore considers the space of Moriarty’s imaginary kingdom and its significance for rethinking the contemporary anthem. Anthems can be seen as symbolic signs of unity and/or division.6 Shana Redmond, for example, has seen the anthem as emblematic of solidarity and citizenship. The anthem she argues, in its varied composition and performance, is a ‘sound franchise’ contributing to the political domain.7

The place that delivered Moriarty is Co. Kerry, commonly referred to as ‘The Kingdom’ in sport, politics and tourist advertising. The origin of that moniker is opaque. It has been suggested that it is simply a transliteration of ‘Ciar’s Kingdom’, Ciar being the name of a king and subsequently a tribe in the region.8 That a county should hold such a title is in itself curious. That a county so strongly associated with Republican sentiment and anti-royalist feeling, all the while within a self-declared republic, should do so is even more puzzling because Kerry, of all counties, with its rugged, rural and mountainous terrain, has constituted the image of the nationalist independent Gaelic ideal. It is significant that the ancient nickname is maintained not in jest or as a clever jape but rather with an honest pride. It reveals a connection to a complicated history and mythology deeper than the current Irish State.9

The county unit is simultaneously the most English and Irish of manmade markings on the island’s map. The contours of their borders and limits are among the everyday legacy of British colonial rule, yet their ongoing affirmation in domains of sport, folklore and politics is a hallmark of Ireland’s post-colonial and post-partitioned culture. Moriarty eschews the county, and this is important because the county is the foremost spatial and geographical unit of meaning in contemporary Irish identity and its boundaries are infused with a sacred untouchability.10 His site of engagement is a wider, more enduring space, a ‘Dreamtime’,11 grounded in the mythologies, theologies, classical learning and literature of diverse cultures. It is founded on a belief in the sacred inheritance of poetry and prose. My argument is this: Moriarty’s global ‘Dreamtime’ can be conceived as a reservoir, an archive to be re-read, chanted and re-sung.

Antiphonal Singing

Once we have heard you [Anna Livia/The Liffey] singing Manannán’s song as you flow through Dublin…we will have no choice but to rebuild it, giving every street and bridge of it the nearly perilous aesthetic sovereignty of the Ardagh chalice.12

The spirit of reflective singing, articulated by Moriarty, calls us to consider our antiphonal practices. It is only through antiphonal singing that the anthem can respond to the present, including the formation of the capitalist nation state itself. The new Republic’s constitution is best conceived as an unfinished antiphony, by which I mean a document open to amendments and re-interpretation. In cases where the ambiguity of a song’s meaning and significance invites participation, we must seize the opportunity to occupy this space by singing antiphonal and atelic republics. We must also pursue our singing methodology. How do we sing our anthems?

Etymologically derived from ‘antiphon’ (‘anti’ = over/against; ‘phone’ = voice), referring to an extended duet/hymn whereby a choir of opposing voices sings through call and response, the anthem has transformed from sacred music, to music of praise, to national signifier. It would be a failure to limit our understanding of anthemic singing to a practice whereby the individual submits to a greater and singular collective harmony. Singing can be a primal, intoxicating marking of territory. The challenge of our current time is to transplace the song and specifically the anthem. Certainly the anthem can be defined as a song of loyalty or devotion, but it also can accommodate the inclusion of different voices. If this transplacement is only for the moment in which the song is sung, then this is still symbolically significant. Momentary vision beyond our rigidities is valuable. There is a folkloric vocabulary beyond classical, folk and pop songs. Moriarty hears it in whale song and the song of the curlew, in the call of the angelus, the sound of the crocked stream, the chant of prayer. Rethinking these traditions, emblems and symbols in light of current politics is a constant challenge because there is a tendency for cultural forms to be ossified in the making of canons.

Inspired by Moriarty’s provocation and fuelled by the limitations of the existing anthems, I suggest we apply an ethics and aesthetics of counterpoint (polyphony) to the mythology, methodology and ideology of our singing. To do so, we must analyse and transform how we sing. Our critical task requires ‘emancipating ourselves from the myths and metaphors that have become forms our sensibility and categories of understanding’.13 This requires accessing the sacred ‘Dreamtime’ archive of song in a spirit of creative necessity. It also entails challenging any assumption that the choir is unimpeachable; the choir can hide all manner of individual responsibilities.

Following Kolstø, we can understand the anthem as unifying or divisive. However, the oppositional nature of antiphonal singing embraces what I call the ‘counterpoint ideal’. In music, the term counterpoint is used to describe the relationship between polyphonic sounds that remain independent. Counterpoint recognises the interactive potential of song, and is conventionally used to refer to the way in which certain compositions with competing lead parts simultaneously collaborate to create and support the overall melody. As a principle, in counterpoint, no singer is relegated to a support role. Rather, the texture of the song can be thought of as a tapestry. A popular example of counterpoint is Simon & Garfunkel’s version of Scarborough Fair/Canticle.14

The call and response of the traditional anthem can seem antithetical to the fostering of independent identity and living ecumenically, but at its most straightforward we need to recognise that even imitation can offer counterpoint. The counterpoint ideal, I suggest, extends beyond an individual song’s composition. It extends beyond any strict or governed species of counterpoint.

In the most general terms, I propose that songs have beneficial properties. In the case of anthems they may offer communal catharsis in he Aristotelean sense. However we also might identify, within a song, a stupefying capacity. In antiphonal singing there is the possibility of a transparency that blinds; a structure-less singing that does not speak to our time. An unthinking or uncritical humming of Amhrán na bhFiann (the Irish national anthem) that accompanies most of its public airings is an example of a practice devoid of reflection and contestation. This is a complicit singing. It is a singing devoid of the rich resources and aesthetic intelligence of what Moriarty calls ‘Dreamtime’.

For me, the value of ‘Dreamtime’ is the extent to which it can be deployed as a source and repository of heightened awareness. The singing of new republics requires anti-lullabies that do not seek to ease citizen’s distress and merely entertain. It entails anthems that do not seek to make us feel comfortable in traditions (of geography, economics and history). It demands not to be sung critically, not in a zombie-like in a daze.

The Anthem

More than anyone else…Molly [Mallone] enabled Dubliners to think of themselves not just as citizens but as folk.15

The current politics of the anthem in Ireland is not defined in terms of a strict nationalist duty, nor is it clarified in terms of an understandable goal; rather its opaqueness evokes an unclear memory of a dated national cause and a signal of the uncomfortable nature of the state’s independence.16 The particular moment of centenary commemoration makes this clear. While the Irish tricolour and the Proclamation were centrepieces of 2016’s centenary commemorations in Ireland, the national anthem was conspicuous in its absence. All primary and post-primary schools received their own national flag, either from the Defence Forces or from the Thomas F. Meagher Foundation,17 and a copy of the 1916 proclamation with March 15th declared Proclamation Day. In contrast, the national anthem, as unloved signifier of Irish statehood, was routinely shunned.

The cosmological content and cosmopolitanism of Moriarty’s vision extends this musical site of research beyond a North-Western European isle. In the contemporary and local politics of events such as the State Commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, or Brexit, the challenge of our time is a cosmopolitan challenge to live ecumenically (mitakuye oyasin) with all beings whilst, at the same time, to be in chorus attempting to ‘reconstitute ourselves as a people’.18 Song and its authentic singing do not require a genetic lineage to specific postcodes. As such the potential of song is to combat our ‘conscription into the modern world’.19 By invoking an oblique space (a ‘Dreamtime’) accessible through singing, Moriarty challenges us to think beyond fixed identities. In this way singing is for Moriarty both an aesthetic way to knowledge and a form of ethics.

While Moriarty risked an idealised and romanticised Ireland empty of disconcerting historical specifics, his idealisations are mythical, not historical. For example, he resists the constriction of a Kerry (a North Kerry at that) to an island shielded with shibboleths. Instead, Kerry’s folklore was seen as the basis for a new anthropology of ecumenical harmony. In each site, there was the potential to read and sing myth and structure new ways of seeing. The singing was a way to come out from behind ‘the Dykes’.20

The challenge for Moriarty was to combat rigid patriotic nationalism.21 The aesthetic and ancient mechanism for such reconstitution and solidarity is song. ‘Maybe Uvavnuk’s song [an untitled Inuit shaman song from the 19th century] will sing us out of our dead-end rigidities. Maybe it will sing us into more hopeful evolutionary shape’.22 In the spirit of such a reconstitution, where better to begin than where we explicitly declare, in song, ourselves as a people? While there are other symbols and paraphernalia of ersatz patriotism – flags, emblems, proclamations, salutes and so on – song is a crucial site to explore the spirit of Moriarty’s conceptual claims.

With Moriarty’s invitation to rework and remix, and in the context of confusion between commemoration and celebration alongside the false assumption that (Irish) independence has been fully achieved, we may ask ourselves: what anthem can announce a mode of existence beyond the singular Irish capitalist nation state?23

Nation states announce themselves with anthems of all sorts; triumphant, sombre, defensive, and so on.24 Bound by ideals of nation and by functions of state, the national anthem cannot be completely opaque. Furthermore the singularity of the national anthem ensures it is a site of ongoing contestation.25 As a song, there is a wonderful crookedness to the anthem which derives from the atelic and dynamic activity of its singing. For example, America’s The Star-Spangled Banner, itself a reworking of a London drinking song, has been adapted in versions as diverse as Jimi Hendrix’s instrumental and José Feliciano’s blues style version.26

My purpose in conceptualising the anthem as a site is to transcend its reductivism to a singular version, and consider not a plurality of future potential anthems, but rather the antiphonal possibilities and ambiguities of the practice of the national anthem. This can productively reside in a space between the revelation and concealment of cultural origins and identities. Ireland’s relationship to its national song is noteworthy in demonstrating some of the tensions and necessary ambiguities involved in articulating the idea of an independent republic. Initially, songs such as Thomas Moore’s Let Erin Remember, God Save Ireland and A Nation Once Again were used as anthems at the foundation of the state. Amhrán na bhFiann, a song composed by Peadar Kearney (lyrics) in English as The Soldier’s Song and Patrick Heeney (music) and popularised in ‘the internment camps after the Easter Rising’27 was eventually adopted.28

As Amhrán na bhFiann is traditionally sung in a later Irish language translation (by Liam Ó Rinn), it presents an event of ambiguity. Due to its contentious politics as a clear revolutionary symbol, ‘successive governments [have sought perhaps understandably] to make it so difficult for citizens and others to know exactly what the anthem is’.29 This has been a successful policy. ‘Today, when most people in the Republic of Ireland…hear “The Soldier’s Song”, they are reminded not of particular political ideals or historical events, but simply of their membership of the Irish nation’.30 The very ambiguity of translation itself and the absence of any official translation render the song apart from attempts to perceive our current situation.

Amhrán na bhFiann persists despite its supplementation in sporting contexts where the nation is represented in opposition to the Republic (Ireland’s Call and on occasion The Rose of Tralee), its failure to register with the diaspora (unlike Danny Boy), and its apparent allegiance to militant republicanism/anti-Britishness. The anthem persists due to its ambiguous nature and a reluctance to discuss alternatives. (Although the focus of this paper has been on the Irish anthem, it is worth noting that the anthem of Northern Ireland is also marked by ambiguity and divisive politics. On some occasions the national anthem of the UK God Save the Queen is used, whereas for other events, such as the Commonwealth Games, Londonderry Air with the lyrics of Danny Boy are used.)

This ambiguity fosters an aura of cultural elitism around Irish identity whereby the anthem functions as shibboleth to mark exclusion. Its musical notes decorate the passport, a document regulating another kind of inclusion or exclusion. Yet, the anthem’s ambiguity and collective situatedness also invites us to take ownership over its performance, especially through singing. Where rebel songs such as Óró, sé do bheatha abhaile and Foggy Dew have become associated with an attitude of patriotic ‘correctness’, I argue that such correctness denies the importance of community and collective living, and should be avoided because it serves to entrench division. My hope is not for a tune which can fully succeed in representing the world (or even just Ireland) in its complexity, but I do think we need to make attempts. The anthem and fellow republican ballads such as The Fields of Athenry have plotted a sectarian space of exclusion, and yet we must embrace the possibilities of their re-singing as anthems of ecumenical harmony.

Revisiting the Politics of the Anthem

[T]here is a special kind of contemporaneous community which language alone suggests – above all in the form of poetry and songs. Take national anthems, for example, sung on national holidays. No matter how banal the words and mediocre the tunes, there is in this singing an experience of simultaneity. At precisely such moments, people wholly unknown to each other utter the same verses to the same melody. The image: unisonance. Singing the Marseillaise, Waltzing Matilda, and Indonesia Raya provide occasions for unisonality, for the echoed physical realization of the imagined community.31

In the spirit of bringing forward Anderson’s idea here of ‘unisonance’, thinking through Moriarty challenges us to consider renewal. Exemplary of the anthems antiphonal substitution was A Nation’s Voice, broadcast live on RTÉ One, on RTÉ Radio 1 and on on Easter Sunday, 27th March 2016. This free open-air concert at the National Museum Collins Barracks in Dublin,32 consisted of 1,114 singers from 31 choirs based in 19 different counties across Ireland, led by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor David Brophy. Central to this hour of singing was Paul Muldoon’s poetic reading of lyrics set to conductor Shaun Davey’s score One Hundred Years a Nation. Muldoon’s words were ‘moving and celebratory but also scathing and provocative, giving space to “gombeen financiers”, “parish parasites”, ghost estates, mass emigration, “bloody assassinations” and the “bomb’s abominations”’.33

As an attempt to sing Ireland, A Nation’s Voice negotiated the complicated challenge of critically commemorating and simultaneously celebrating the resources of national identity. By emphasising hybridity, inclusivity and participation, this event was successful (in Moriarty’s terms) insofar as it employed choral singing to rework the anthem to embrace new approaches to ownership, access, usage and scale in the singing of Ireland. In contrast to the official Seachtar Fear, Seacht Lá (Seven Men, Seven Days) narrative that dominated the 50th commemorations, A Nation’s Voice recognised and embraced a multiplicity of narratives. Furthermore, Moriarty would have recognised, in the tri-temporal orientation (past, present and future) of the work, an attempt to productively engage ancient, medieval and modern mythology in the hope of remaking the world. In reusing songs from Irish history such as the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah,34 Seán Ó Riada’s Mise Éire Orchestral Suite and The Connemara Suite by Bill Whelan, A Nation’s Voice achieved a collaborative counterpoint. This interactive counterpoint was enriched in a style akin to Moriarty when Muldoon, sketching an Irish ‘Dreamtime’, criss-crossed Irish history with contemporary concerns by curating and cataloguing moments and places of national significance from ‘proclamations’ to ‘stagflation’, ‘Newgrange’ to ‘Glenmalure’. Muldoon, echoing Moriarty’s philosophy, sang ‘Let’s renew, rather than ransack, our corner of the planet’.35

A Nation’s Voice could be criticised for failing to explicitly confront, and thus rework and re-sing, Amhrán na bhFiann. However by singing over and against the tradition of the anthem, it nonetheless shows what antiphonal singing entails; namely, the risk of representing the nation anew in both content and style.

A related example of such a consideration was the later project, Composing the Island: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016, held over three weeks in September. This festival presented twenty-nine concerts of orchestral, choral, instrumental, song and chamber music by Irish composers written between 1916 and 2016. Composing the Island sought to make visible the efforts of classical musicians in defining Ireland’s independent identity. Showcasing this history demonstrated the central place that musical composition and the heritage of folk song have been accorded in the political, economic and educational configuration and reconfiguration of the Irish as a people.

What else could be done to further explore the anthem in these terms? In tandem with a classical songbook we could record a Great Irish Songbook. This would track the popular music of the last century from so called rebel songs to celtic folk to traditional and pop. From The Men Behind the Wire36 and The Boys Are Back in Town37 to Lights On.38 All these genres occupy the imaginary space of the lived identity of a nation. The Men Behind the Wire memorialises a revolutionary generation, whereas The Boys Are Back in Town and Lights On in succession imagine new teenage and immigrant generations. To catalogue a national repertoire can both validate and valorise an ‘indigenous’ collection of tunes, however it can also trick us into a form of silo thinking that music mocks. Music embraces a heterogeneity of influence.


Vital to any realisation of the promise in Am Énflaith is the Orphic charm of the birdsong. This is not simply to emphasise the importance of myth making, but also the poetics involved. To rethink the anthem, it is worth following Moriarty’s lead by both traveling back to the ancients and to ‘walkabout’ in the contemporary global.39 New myth making, a new singular Ireland, is possible by re-invoking the term and practice which would later become the anthem.

With each instance of antiphonal singing we have the power to invoke a Moriarty-like ‘Dreamtime’, and rework our current situation. In concluding, I recall that the central method in Moriarty is a demand to ‘break spontaneously into song…and in all possible variations’.40 I have added to this injunction the principles of counterpoint and antiphonal singing. It is not my intention to prescribe one specific new anthem, though explicit new efforts should be welcomed, but rather to expand the idea of anthem to include those occasions where we sing in the spirit of counterpoint to sing into being a new way of being in the world. The challenge within my ongoing project is to build on the sites which might be occupied by the conceptual framework of Moriarty’s thoughts. This could be further stretched beyond this current paper to provoke questions such as – What songs are sung today in internment camps? Can these be sung as anthems? A final, manifesto-like, set of injunctions: If we need to sing these anthems in celebration, we must. If we are called to sing in protest, we must. And if the mood calls us to keen (to sing in lamentation), then keen. Understanding the history of use and a diversity of engagement must be out starting point if we are to undertake the invocation of Ind Énflaith that Moriarty imagined.

1. John Moriarty, Invoking Ireland: Ailiu Iath n-hErend (Dublin: Lilliput, 2005), 129. See footnote 39 on Moriarty’s use of the terms ‘Dreamtime’ and ‘walkabout’.
2. Ibidem.
3. Julius Ziz & Dónal Ó Céilleachair, Dreamtime Revisited (Ireland: Anú Pictures, 2012).
4. Moriarty, Invoking Ireland, 11. This, it ought to be remembered, is Moriarty’s personal store, it need not be the limit of ours. By the expression ‘silver branch perception’, Moriarty is referring to the ideal of the mythic/bardic method whereby the ancient and mythological world is recalled to provide clarity on the contemporary. This is not a championing of archaic ways of seeing, but rather a route to a clearer encounter with the opaque present, and its narrow emphasis on the economic.
5. These include the 1913 Dublin Lockout, the First World War, the Easter Rising of 1916, Women’s suffrage (1918), the war of Independence (1919–21), the establishment of the State in 1922 and the Civil War (1922-1923). And see
6. Pål Kolstø, ‘National Symbols as Signs of Unity and Division,’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 29 (2006): 676–701.
7. Shana L. Redmond, Anthem Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2013).
8. M. P. Ryle, The Kingdom of Kerry: Historical And Descriptive Articles (Dublin: The Irish Associated Press, 1899), 80.
9. See, for example, Simon Brouder, ed., Rebel Kerry: From the Pages of ‘the Kerryman’ (Dublin: Mercier Press, 2017); and Richard McElligott, Forging a Kingdom – The GAA in Kerry 1884–1934 (Dublin: Collins Press, 2013).
10. One only has to consider the current controversy concerning the proposed changes to the borders between Westmeath and Roscommon, and Kilkenny and Waterford to see rigidity of these lines for their residents.
11. A note on the use of the term ‘Dreamtime’: Moriarty clearly and perhaps crudely seeks to evoke the Indigenous Australian philosophies known as ‘the Dreaming’. While this latter term is preferable for accuracy in the Australian context, I stick with the term ‘Dreamtime’, not only because it was the term that Moriarty used, but also because his deployment of the term is global in its ambition. His philosophy does not make any specific claim on the complex practices and knowledge systems of Indigenous Australians except for being inspired by the centrality of ancient complex singing practices that inform contemporary living.
12. John Moriarty, Nostos (Dublin: Lilliput. 2001), 664.
13. Idem, 6.
14. Simon & Garfunkel, ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle,’ in Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (New York: Columbia University Press, 1966).
15. Moriarty, Nostos, 137. Here Moriarty ventures the idea of a city anthem – or as Dublin is more properly understood by Irish people as county, a county anthem – as generating more than a locus of communal connection, namely a republic. As such, we can see a reaffirmation of the local grounded solely in song, infectious song. But, crucially, we notice that song is malleable, and can be used to announce, mould, sell and mourn a people.
16. This anthem anathema is visible in the perennial commentary on the ability of sports players to recite the anthem. See, for example, Hugh Linehan, ‘Can you sing the national anthem better than our hockey team?’ The Irish Times, August 13, 2016.
17. Thomas Francis Meagher flew the first Irish tricolour flag on the 7th of March 1848 in Waterford City.
18. John Moriarty, Invoking Ireland, 1. ‘Dreamtime’ is a research space greater than the cogito, beyond the digital or the canon. It is a sacred everywhen.
19. Moriarty, Nostos, 164.
20. Idem, 176.
21. Moriarty, for example, speaks of a ‘safari of stories’ when describing the nation. And see Moriarty, Invoking Ireland, 8.
22. Moriarty, Nostos, 402.
23. New anthems need not be as formal as Nice Screams – A Citizens’ Anthem, a socially engaged sound art project by Softday (Sean Taylor and Mikael Fernström) and Deirdre Power, where the song A dhaoine uaisle Uachtair Reoite (Better World in Mind) by Donnacha Toomey, ‘was selected by public vote and converted to a chime performed by two ice cream vans in Limerick city’ ( They can be as discrete and informal as we require.
24. For example, France’s La Marseillaise is a rousing call to arms while Uruguay’s Himno Nacional is a more serene affair. India, Netherlands and Germany describe their country’s geography, while Mexico, Poland and Thailand reference historical battles. Spain’s Marcha Real is wordless, while South Africa’s National Anthem is sung in five languages.
25. See, for example the current debate for England to adopt a national anthem, ‘MPs back calls for English national anthem,’, 13 January, 2016, accessed 20 April, 2017.
26. William Coleman, ‘The Music of a well tun’d State,’ Journal of the Early Republic 35:4 (2015): 599–629.
27. Ruth Sherry, ‘The Story of the National Anthem,’ History Ireland 4:1 (1996): 41. The song’s English title is ‘The Soldier’s Song.’
28. The decision was only announced by way of a curt parliamentary answer to a backbenchers question in 1926. See ‘Ceisteanna – Questions – Saorstat National Anthem,’ Dáil Éireann Debate 16:21 (1926), accessed April 25, 2017,
. See also Ewan Morris, Our Own Devices: National Symbols and Political Conflict in Twentieth-Century Ireland (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2005), 40–1.
29. Sherry, ‘The Story of the National Anthem,’ 43.
30. Morris, Our Own Devices, 69.
31. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities; Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), 145.
32. This venue had been used as a British Army barracks in 1916.
33. Fintan O’Toole, ‘Writers’ view of Rising far from rose-tinted,’ The Irish Times, April 29, 2016.
34. First performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742.
35. RTÉ, A Nation’s Voice. Dublin: RTÉ. First broadcast Sunday 27 March 2016, available at
36. The Barleycorn, ‘The Men Behind The Wire,’ in Live at the Embankment (Dublin: Release Records, 1971).
37. Thin Lizzy, ‘The Boys Are Back in Town,’in Jailbreak (London: Mercury, 1976).
38. Rusangano Family, ‘Lights On,’ in Let The Dead Bury The Dead (Limerick: Rusangano Family, 2016).
39. As with the Moriarty’s appropriation of the term ‘dreamtime’, his use of the term ‘walkabout’ is jarring, if not culturally insensitive and inappropriate. I have chosen solely to stick with the term ‘walkabout’, as opposed to wander, because it was the term that Moriarty used. Despite the global perspective of Moriarty’s philosophy, his equalising appropriation of different cultural traditions fails to fully acknowledge the histories and legacies of cultural imperialism.
40. Moriarty, Nostos, 378.

About the author:

Connell Vaughan is a lecturer in philosophy and aesthetics at Dublin Institute of Technology. He is a research fellow with GradCAM and member of the European Society for Aesthetics. His research focuses on how challenges to aesthetic, educational and political institutional norms and narratives gain recognition over time. He has published on the avant-garde, curation, vandalism, the canon and the relationship between contemporary aesthetic theory, practice, and policy.