dangerous trend | 

Fontaines DC guitarist says 'poisoning' nationalism is on the rise in England

The band have written a song inspired by a recent court case which made headlines across the world

Fontaines DC. Photo by Ellius Grace.

Eugene Masterson

Dublin band Fontaines DC have revealed how the first track on their new album is about a controversy over an Irish phrase on a grave in England which led to a major court battle.

Their opening track on the album, Skinny Fa, is called ‘In ár gcroíthe go deo'.

The song title is inspired by a recent court case which made headlines across the world.

The family of Margaret Keane, a Coventry dinner lady who died aged 73 in 2018, took legal action after they were refused permission to erect a gravestone engraved in Irish.

The grieving family eventually won its battle to erect the memorial after overturning a church court ban issued on the grounds that it might arouse political “passions”.

They now hope a Celtic cross bearing the words “In ár gcroíthe go deo” – “in our hearts forever” will now be allowed on her grave.

Margaret Keane, originally from Westmeath, who died aged 73 in July 2018

Keane and her husband were born in Ireland but lived in the UK.

Both were active in the GAA circles.

During the one-day court sitting, lawyers for the family cited human rights law and said the Irish language had been singled out as there were inscriptions in other languages without translation in the graveyard.

Singer Grian Chatten explains the background to the song.

Grian Chatten of Fontaines DC

“Nationalism is on the rise everywhere, populism too, and a love for ‘dear old Blighty’,” he tells Rolling Stone magazine.

“Imagine a nation as a ship and when something happens, an element of shame in the national consciousness will bring the boat down.

"But at the same time, the other end will rise up and that’s the pride.

“You look at the historic statues being pulled down recently and there’s going to be a resurgence of people thinking their freedom or speech and national identity in threatened.”

He adds: "Recently it’s become a bit of a thing again, this treatment of Irish people, and because there’s a slight lack of discourse about the treatment of Irish people by English people in London – compared to other communities – who are treated much worse – English people think there is a bit of a free pass.

“Irish people for a while have not wanted it to be there: there’s a rhetoric that’s it’s not like it was in the '80s and '90s.

"And it’s not, but it is still there and Irish people have been putting up with it in attempts to move on.”

Fontaines DC

Guitarist Carlos O’Connell recalls an incident he got involved in.

“There’s a poisoning nationalism that’s grown in England, too, and I think it’s down to the lack of truthful history that’s taught,” he observes.

“There was something telling I experienced. It was Remembrance Sunday and somebody raised a glass to all the fallen soldiers of the British Army at a dinner I was at.

“He raised the glass in front of me, and I just didn’t know if I could raise a glass to the people who were responsible for all these horrors in Ireland.

“I don’t think he did it on purpose, but I just don’t think he knew the things that came with saying that.

“I found that so dangerous, the fact that someone could so easily say something like that.

“The experience of that song is just two years ago, it was considered the language of the enemy. And that’s absolutely insane.”

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