Readers were asked to fill in the song title and artist, and to explain why they made their selection. While thousands of people voted for the usual suspects (The Beatles, Madonna, Elvis, etc.), some enterprising Irish music fans started a write-in campaign for “A Nation Once Again,” by The Wolfe Tones. The reason: “800 years of oppression, that’s why!”
The BBC site was inundated with an avalanche of Irish votes, as people sent copies of the e-mail to everyone they knew, urging them to vote. The grassroots campaign was so successful that by the time the voting was closed last Friday, out of 5,300 songs, “A Nation Once Again” had made it into the top 10.
BBC suits were surprised, to say the least.
” ‘A Nation Once Again’ has come from nowhere,” said a spokesman. “The response has been enormous. Hundreds of votes have flooded in for it.”
Naturally, the Wolfe Tones — both the Provisional Wing (Brian Warfield, Tommy Byrne and Noel Nagle) and the Official Wing (Derek Warfield) are thrilled. Separately, of course.
Brian summed up the feelings of both sides of the band.
“We find all this a great craic,” he said. “It’s something that we would never have expected. We’re absolutely thrilled to bits.”
Warfield, the band’s banjo player and author of hits like “Joe McDonnell,” said he’s thrilled that this particular song made it onto the short list. It was written in the mid-19th century by Thomas Davis, a Protestant lawyer and a leader of the Young Ireland movement.
“To see this song alongside the likes of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ makes us all very proud,” said Warfield. “The song appeals to Irish people so much because it’s about Ireland’s struggle for independence.”
And, of course, because voting for it annoys the British to no end. And sure, isn’t that the very best reason of all?