Rachel J. Cooper, the author of "Our National Anthem," is spearheading the Learn Our Anthem initiative which is encouraging people to learn the lyrics to Ireland's national anthem "Amhrán na bhFiann" ("The Soldier's Song.")

The Learn Our Anthem initiative, by Abair Linn Publishing and supported by the GAA, was officially launched on Monday, January 30 at Dublin's Croke Park.

So delighted to officially launch the https://t.co/oNhYCZUqtw initiative with @officialgaa and @schoolbooks_ie let's unite to learn it for life! @rtenews #gaa #amhrannabhfiann #irishsport #learnouranthem https://t.co/fVsILfz1mh

— @learnouranthem_ie (@abairlinn) January 31, 2023

“I think we all know something about the majority of us in Ireland, a somewhat sad truth - most of us don’t know the words to our national anthem ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ or ‘The Soldier’s Song,'" Cooper said ahead of the initiative's launch.

"Wouldn’t it be amazing if all Irish children in the future knew their national anthem for life? Singing it with depth of feeling and pronouncing every word correctly?” 

Cooper continued: “A few years back, I went to a sports match and during the singing of the national anthem I realized that I didn’t know the words past the second line.

"I also realized that people around me were mumbling uncomfortably or looking at their phones.

"I then embarked on some minor research; asking people in general if they could sing the words starting with family and friends?

"Very few could."

Cooper said parents told her that while children would learn the words to the Irish national anthem before St. Patrick's Day in school, they would quickly forget them afterward.

"Our national anthem may be written in our national language and harder for many to learn - but is that not the reason we should know it?”

A centenary initiative to raise awareness and get families learning and singing Amhrán na bhFiann was launched at @CrokePark #GAA

— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 30, 2023

The launch of the Learn Our Anthem initiative has kicked off with a competition for school children supported by the GAA and Schoolbooks.ie.

The competition invites all primary schools in Ireland from 3rd class to 6th class to learn the Irish anthem and send a video of their performance in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The winning school will receive a specially commissioned Abair Linn trophy and a guided tour of the GAA museum at Croke Park.

Cooper said: “This competition is a fun and engaging way of encouraging kids to learn it.

"The campaign is being launched purely from a cultural identity viewpoint, it’s a cohesive and countrywide effort so that we are no longer the only country in the world where the majority do not know their own anthem.

"If we all worked together to bring awareness to this project I believe that we could make this year the year that families learn it together.”

She added: “Let's all unite to learn it for life."

The GAA says that the Learn our Anthem campaign, which will continue after St. Patrick's Day, is to create awareness of Ireland's national anthem at home and amongst the Irish communities abroad to get people learning our national anthem as Gaeilge for life.

The GAA noted that 2023 is the 100th anniversary of when the anthem was officially published in Irish. Liam Ó Rinn, a civil servant, translated it from the chorus of "The Soldier’s Song" written by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney in 1909-10.

Meanwhile, Cooper told Newstalk Breakfast that there is "no better time" to learn the anthem and be proud of the Irish language given the success of the Irish-language film "An Cailin Cúin," which was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars

"Amhrán na bhFiann is the most famous Irish song in the world," she said, "I think we should all know it."