“800 Years We Have Been Down”: Rebel Songs and the Retrospective Reach of the Irish Republican Narrative
- Historical Appropriation,
- Irish Republicanism,
- Rebel Songs,
- Republican Ballads
Copyright (c) 2022 Seán Ó Cadhla
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
From the glamorous, cross-dressing “Rebel, Rebel” of David Bowie, to the righteous Trenchtown “Soul Rebel” of Bob Marley and The Wailers, both varied and various musical articulations of cultural and socio-political rebellion have long enjoyed a ubiquitous presence across multiple soundscapes. As a musicological delineator in Ireland, however, ‘rebel’ conveys a specifically political dynamic due to its consistent deployment as an all-encompassing descriptor for songs detailing events and personalities from the Irish national struggle. This paper sets out to examine the specific musical delineator of ‘rebel song’ from both musicological and politico-ideological perspectives with a view to interrogating its appropriateness as a universal descriptor for such output and will further demonstrate how to the present day, the genre represents yet another contested ideological space within the politico-historical narrative of traditionalist Irish Republicanism.