BACKGROUND TO NICE SCREAMS - A CITIZENS' ANTHEM ART PROJECT
Responding to a lack of any 'national hymn or anthem for use on ceremonial or convivial occasions' the Dublin Evening Mail in June 1924 ran a competition for 'a national hymn to the glory of Ireland' A prize of £50 was offered for a text, with W.B. Yeats, Lennox Robinson and James Stephens appointed as a judging panel. In October, the paper reluctantly published the judges' decision that having 'read the poems…we are all agreed that there is not one amongst them worth fifty guineas or any portion of it…' Undeterred, the Mail asked readers to pick from six of the least bad lyrics. Mary Farren Thomas of Clontarf was awarded the £50 prize for her poem 'God of Our Ireland', but the media-led campaign fizzled out having becoming a burden and an embarrassment for the newspaper. It did however direct public attention to the absence of an accepted anthem and occasioned considerable editorial comment and correspondence in newspapers.
In 1926 the New Free State Government adopted "The Soldiers' Song", composed in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney. Kearney wrote the original lyrics in English, which were later translated to Amhrán an BhFiann by Liam Ó Rinn. The State purchased the copyright for the anthem for £1,200 in 1933. Copyright expired in 2012, seventy years after the death of Kearney.
NICE SCREAMS – A CITIZENS' ANTHEM is a non-profit multidisciplinary art project which aims to engage socially with interested citizens by creating a performative sound artwork activating a call to action on the streets of Limerick in April 2016 . The project attempts to contribute to the existing and significant debate relating to the legacy and contestations of Easter 1916. The winning composition will be converted to an ice cream van jingle, and will be played at various locations in the city by two Shannon Ices vans, culminating in a public singing/performance of the 'new' anthem on April 24th as part of the EVA International Biennale of Contemporary Art.
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