The Famine is Over (Loyalist song, 2000s)

The Famine is Over is an anti-Irish song popular with Scottish football fans and Ulster Loyalists. It originated in Scotland during the mid-2000s, written by supporters of Rangers Football Club to antagonise rival club Celtic.

The Famine is Over is sung to the tune of John B. Sails, a folk song popularised by the Beach Boys as Sloop John B. The song’s title refers to Ireland’s Great Famine of the 1840s, during which thousands of starving Irish emigrated to Scotland.

Celtic Football Club was established by Irish immigrants in Glasgow in 1887 and its supporter base remained predominately Irish. Celtic supporters are well known for their Irish Nationalist and Republican sympathies, occasionally launching into IRA songs or chants during matches. The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, the Scottish Football League’s two most successful clubs, is long-standing and acrimonious.

The song’s lyrics suggest to Celtic fans of Irish heritage that “the famine is over” so “why don’t you go home?” Its other lyrics contain references specific to Irish culture or Rangers-Celtic rivalry. The “traitor from Castlemilk” refers to Aiden McGeady, a Scottish-born footballer of Irish heritage who chose to play for the Republic of Ireland. “Big John” is former Celtic manager Jock Stein. “Athenry Mike” refers to a character in the Irish folk song The Fields of Athenry. The song’s third verse refers to unproven claims that Celtic officials covered up a case of child abuse in the 1990s.

These racially-charged provocations have proved controversial and there have been several attempts to ban the song. Ulster Loyalists have since adopted The Famine is Over and often sing it to goad Nationalists. It is often heard during the July marching season, sometimes sung near Nationalist areas or Catholic churches.

I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn’t have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don’t they go home?

Now Athenry Mike was a thief
And Large John he was fully briefed
And that wee traitor from Castlemilk
Turned his back on his own
They’ve all their Papists in Rome
They have U2 and Bono
Well the famine is over
Why don’t they go home?

Now they raped and fondled their kids
That’s what those perverts from the darkside did
And they swept it under the carpet
And Large John he hid
Their evils seeds have been sown
‘Cause they’re not of our own
Well the famine is over
Why don’t you go home?

Now Timmy don’t take it from me
Because if you know your history
You’ve persecuted thousands of people
In Ireland alone
You turned on the lights
Fuelled your boats by night
That’s how you repay us
It’s time to go home.

Citation information
Title: “The Famine is Over (Loyalist song, 2000s)”
Authors: Jennifer Llewellyn, Steve Thompson
Publisher: Alpha History
URL: https://alphahistory.com/northernireland/famine-is-over-loyalist-song-2000s/
Date published: March 3, 2018
Date accessed: September 17, 2021
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