Former Ireland hooker Shane Byrne has played down the cultural significance of a controversial song which has emerged as an anthem of the Irish team over the last few years. Thousands of fans sang along to ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries after Ireland’s famous win over South Africa at the Rugby World Cup, with the likes of Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony also joining in.
The use of the song, which was released in 1994 and popularised in a sporting context back in 2018, has proven to be controversial in some circles. It was written in response to an IRA bomb attack in Warrington in 1993 which claimed the lives of two children aged three and 12.
Some have suggested that the song carries an anti-IRA message, but Byrne has since waded into the row by insisting that fans should not take its meaning too literally when singing it at the Rugby World Cup because it is simply a ‘good tune’ and should be treated as such.
“Sometimes it’s just a good tune,” he told Upfront with Katie Hannon. “Everyone there is just happy. Yes, there’s a meaning behind it. Yes, it was originally written as a protest song. But sometimes, a good tune is just a good tune.
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“Would you say the same about ‘up the RA’? Yeah but there’s meaning behind ‘up the RA’ as well like, absolutely. But you just said it, you used your words there a second ago, did you think anyone there was thinking about the meaning behind that?
“99.9 per cent of the people that do come out and sing ‘oo aa up the RA’ at inappropriate times are not even remotely thinking about the meaning behind it. They’re just wrapped up in the moment that they’re in, as were all the people in Paris that day.”
Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries who wrote the song in question, previously explained that she was not intending to take a stance against either Protestants or Catholics but was simply expressing her anger at innocent people being killed.
“I don’t care whether it’s Protestant or Catholic, I care about the fact that innocent people are being harmed,” O’Riordan, who died in 2018, told Vox. “That’s what provoked me to write the song.
“It was nothing to do with writing a song about it because I’m Irish. You know, I never thought I’d write something like this in a million years. I used to think I’d get into trouble.”
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