Northern Ireland

Playing of 'anti-IRA' anthem Zombie as Ireland rugby team celebrate victory against South Africa sparks online scrum

The Ireland team celebrate their win. Picture Press Association
The Ireland team celebrate their win. Picture Press Association The Ireland team celebrate their win. Picture Press Association

There has been a mixed reaction to the playing of an 'anti-IRA' anthem at the end of Ireland's rugby world cup win against South Africa at the weekend.

Thousands of Ireland fans celebrated the historic victory to the sound of the Cranberries' 90s hit Zombie.

The 13-8 victory over the world cup holders has raised expectations that Ireland can now go on to lay claim to the coveted title this year.

Read more:

  • Ian Madigan: Ireland showed that we can compete with the best in the world
  • Ireland report clean bill of health after bruising South Africa showdown

Ireland fans greatly outnumbered South Africans among the almost 80,000 who packed into the Stade de France to see the famous victory.

Written by Limerick-born singer Dolores O'Riordan, who died in 2018, Zombie was on the 1994 album ‘No Need to Argue’.

Read more: Zombie by The Cranberries: What is the song about?

It was penned after an IRA bomb exploded in Warrington in 1993 which claimed the lives of two children, three-year-old Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, who was aged 12.

The song includes the lyrics: "Another head hangs lowly, Child is slowly taken and the violence caused such silence, who are we mistaken?".

Read more: 

  • Johnny Sexton demands Ireland ‘make it count' after win over South Africa
  • Botha: 'Heavyweight' clash between Ireland v South Africa lived up to the hype
Zombie was written by the late Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries
Zombie was written by the late Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries Zombie was written by the late Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries

Reaction to the song have been varied, with some taking to social media to welcome it, while others have been critical.

Among those who hailed the singalong was loyalist activist Moore Holmes who wrote on X: “80,000 people singing The Cranberries, Zombie after Ireland’s spectacular victory over the Springboks. Spine-tingling."

But another Twitter user, Simon Coombes, said: "From what I gather Zombie is a gas-lighting, victim blaming anthem, from the perspective of entitlement, detached from the reality of conflict, that protects state actors from any blame for the consequences of war.

"If only the victims of war knew its all their own fault."

Ronan Sheehan also posted his opinion on X.

"What has 'zombie' got to do with Ireland, a song mocking the men and women of Easter week and telling the nationalist people of the 'six counties' it was all in their head.... sorry not for me but sums up an element of the Irish rugby support."

Read more: Simon Easterby says Ireland ‘can get better' than South Africa performance

In response Tadgh Murphy posted: "Considering Zombie was written to express our collective revulsion at the Warrington bomb that killed two boys this is quite the take."

He said those "who remember that sense of revulsion" won't allow history to be rewritten.

Unionist X user Neil Gillespie also set out his views: "Instead of enjoying a victory in the rugby, some republicans are straight out of the traps with complaints about the song ‘Zombie’.

"An all island rugby team enjoying success will NOT take priority over someone talking bad about their favourite serial killers."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood reacted saying it was "an anti-war song" adding: "Stop trying to make it something it isn’t."

"And stop pretending opposing IRA brutality is the same as supporting British brutality.

"Most of us opposed both."

Music played at rugby matches in the past has also been controversial.

In January Leinster Rugby was forced to issue an apology for the 'accidental' playing of the controversial Wolfe Tones' Celtic Symphony at the RDS after it was played at their stadium following a win over Connacht.