Male choir makes late, late rugby call on telly

The Derrykeevan Crossroads Cottage of yesteryear with sisters Mary, IOris and Eileen Forbes/
The Derrykeevan Crossroads Cottage of yesteryear with sisters Mary, IOris and Eileen Forbes/

Ireland north and south rejoiced on Saturday when the men in Emerald Green won the Six Nations Rugby Championships in the most exciting finish ever to the event.

Even people who wonder why the rugby ball is the wrong shape will know that Wales, England, France or Ireland could have won the title. And when Ireland beat Wales by a 30-point margin, it was left to England to score 26 more points than the French. But they failed – by just six points.

Few felt more pride than Portadown Male Voice Choir members, whose contribution to the Irish rugby is contained in the rousing song – ‘Ireland’s Call’, belted out before their victory over Wales.

Some 20 years ago, the men of the choir were down in the RTE studio – to Gay Byrne’s ‘Late, Late Show’ launching the song penned by Derryman Phil Coulter. They hoped that it would resolve the National Anthem conundrum that invariably arises twixt north and south. And it seems that it has, as ‘Ireland’s Song’ has really caught the imagination.

“It was a great night in the history of the choir,” said musical director Gordon Speers. “Andrew Strong was the soloist and we chipped in with the chorus, along with members of the Irish rugby team. Other guests on the show included Michael Palin (Monty Python star and world traveller) and comedian Frank Carson.

Gordon added, “The song was also transmitted to UTV’s ‘Kelly Show’ and we had a great time in the green room, chatting with the other guests - and we were accommodated in an excellent hotel. Saturday’s rugby was so exciting and it brought back those rich memories.”