It’s Such a Boring Song / It Goes On, and On, and On

I managed to watch the second half of the excellent Australia vs Ireland match in the rugby World Cup this morning in Melbourne, Australia winning 17-16 after an agonising drop goal miss in the 73rd minute or so for the Irish — one of those balls that spent an improbable amount of time in the air before narrowly missing the posts.

But it was a smashing game, and I was delighted to learn from the commentators — because I don’t pay as much attention to Irish rugby as I ought — that the Irish captain Keith Wood’s nickname is “the raging potato“, which is marvellously apposite.

So Australia will now have an easy quarter-final against Scotland; Ireland will have an altogether tougher fixture against France — and, to paraphrase the fans’ preferred song, we can all now live and hope and pray for a rematch in Botany Bay in the final of the competition on 22 November — which would be hauntingly appropriate, if a little unlikely…

Trivia point on invented traditions and all (my friend Dan likes it when the Virtual Stoa deals with music trivia): “The Fields of Athenry” was composed by Pete St John in 1979, though most people I run into seem to think it’s a lot older, trad. even. It may do a good job of passing itself off as older than it is owing to a lyric that is based on an old 1888 ballad, or just because of a hefty dose of wishful thinking. Though quite why Danny and Jenny became Michael and Mary for the 1979 version seems unclear, unless PStJ just thought Danny and Jenny weren’t stereotypically Irish enough, and was writing the song for export to the New World.

And it’s now only 140 days before I qualify for citizenship…

UPDATE [5 minutes later]: I’ve just stumbled across this fine parody version, over at, which I’ve lightly repunctuated and spell-checked:

FIELDS OF ATHENRY (alternative version)

By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling,
“Michael, they are singing it again!
If I hear it one more time, I think I’ll lose my mind:
I’m so fed up with the Fields of Athenry.”

Oh no! The Fields of Athenry,
If I hear it one more time, I think I’ll die;
It’s such a boring song; it goes on, and on, and on:
I’m so fed up with the Fields of Athenry

From within the prison wall, I heard a young man calling,
“Mary, why do you think I’m here?
In here we all agree, transportation’ll set us free,
Free from the Fields of Athenry!”


By a lonely harbour wall, I saw the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the tide
“Hold on”, that girl did say, “I’m coming with you to Botany Bay,
To escape from the Fields of Athenry!”


A little clunky in places, but basically very good, and funny.

Blowing Things Up

The Rugby World Cup is getting explosive…

“I [= Springboks coach Rudi Straeuli] will be clearing a lot of issues with the referee on Friday. The maul is one of England’s powerful weapons: if Neil Back is bound, the maul is legal; if he is not – and this is something he does with Leicester as well as England – he is breaking the regulations and should be blown up.” Jacques Brunel, France’s forwards coach, agreed and then took the opportunity to condemn England’s tactics in the lineout on the opposition throw. “They only pretend to contest the ball,” he said. “They put their arms around the opponent’s jumper while he is coming down to stop him from releasing the ball. At the same time another of their players goes through and round the lineout with his arms in the air to say, ‘sorry ref, mistake’, but he is actually slowing down their opposition’s support players and should be blown up.

From today’s Guardian.

Fields of Athenry

By a lonely prison wall I heard a young girl calling:
“Michael, they have taken you away.
For you stole Trevelyan’s corn, so the young might see the morn;
Now the prison ship lies waiting in the bay.”

CHORUS: 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 hard a young man calling:
“Nothing matters, Mary, when you’re free.
“Gainst the famine and the crown I rebelled, they cut me down.
Now you must raise our child with dignity”.

By a lonely harbour wall she watched the last star falling,
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky.
Sure, she’ll live and hope and pray for her love in Botany Bay…
It’s so lonely ’round the fields of Athenry…

Hmm. 42-6 at Lansdowne Road in the Grand Slam match. Time to start paying attention to something else instead.

Sports Round-Up

I thought that my excellent friend and comrade Martin O’Neill was having a good day, as he beavers away on the metaphysics of egalitarian justice, or whatever it is that he does these days.

  • Ireland beat France 15-12 in a closely-fought Six Nations international.
  • Celtic beat Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Premier League.
  • Arsenal were 2-1 up against Chelsea in the FA Cup, with a splendid goal from Thierry Henry just before half time.
  • [If he cares about any other sports teams, I’m not sure I know about it. Actually, I don’t know that he cares about the rugby, but he tends to like Ireland doing well at things, so I’m making an intelligent guess].And on top of all this, he tells me, it’s his birthday.

    But then Chelsea equalised a few minutes from the end and forced a replay.