Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaken?
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Sixteen miles east of Liverpool, on the banks of the River Mersey, lies the quiet borough of Warrington, England. It was here that on March 20, 1993, the Provisional Irish Republican Army planted two bombs in cast-iron litter bins, one outside MacDonald's, the other outside an Argos catalog store. The first blast drove panicked shoppers into the path of the second, resulting in numerous injuries due to the large amount of shrapnel. Of the fifty-four injured, the blasts only resulted in the tragic deaths of two children: three-year-old Jonathan Ball and twelve-year-old Tim Parry. The IRA claimed that the British government was responsible for the deaths, having failed to act on prior warnings and evacuate the designated blast areas. The British government however, refused to take responsibility for the heinous act.
The IRA has long been fighting for the removal of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, wanting to bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland. This paramilitary organization has a long and bloody history in both Northern Ireland and England. Since 1969, the IRA's main strategy has been to use force to cripple the Northern Ireland administration, inflicting casualties on British forces hoping to initiate a withdrawal of Brits from Northern Ireland. It has been a long war resulting in tragedy not only for the families of members of both Irish and British forces, but also for the innocent like Ball and Parry caught in the crossfire.
Irish pop-rock band The Cranberries wrote and recorded their hit song “Zombie,” during their 1993 English Tour. Released as a single off the 1994 album No Need to Argue
, Zombie” is a protest song lamenting the general troubles in Northern Ireland and, more specifically the 1993 Warrington Bombings, in memory of Ball and Parry.
One of the band's most successful singles, “Zombie” features a heavier guitar riff, unlike many of their other songs. Channeling the grunge alternative sound popular in the early Nineties, this song, written by Dolores O'Riordan, includes some pointed and unapologetic lyrics decrying the situation in Northern Ireland and the seeming apathy by many towards the violence with lines like “But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.”
The music video for “Zombie” was released in 1994. Directed by Samuel Bayer, the video features Dolores O'Riordan covered in striking gold makeup against a cross, which immediately conjures religious connotations intrinsic to Irish culture and part of the ongoing issues in Northern Ireland. The video also includes footage of British soldiers on patrol in Northern Ireland reminiscent of the Easter Rising of 1916, an event some consider to have triggered the IRA conflict. Also featured in the music video are the images of children fighting, a poignant statement about the continuation of violence passed down through generations in a cycle of violence. Young boys, covered in gold and calling to mind Ball and Parry, are seen at the foot of the cross, screaming during the climax of the song, as guitars growl over pounding drums.
Irish music is known for its poignancy and oftentimes grim subject matter due to a history fraught with conflict and violence. That one of the most successful Irish bands of all time should be inspired by such tragic circumstances as the Warrington bombings bears testament to Irish sensibility, and public sympathy, which made “Zombie” one of the most famous protest songs of all time. ~ Suzanne van Rooyen
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. Her published novels include
Dragon's Teeth, Obscura Burning, and
The Other Me. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and eats far too much peanut-butter.
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