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Take It Down from the Mast

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Wikipedia article

"'Take it Down from the Mast'" is an Irish republican song originally written in 1923 by James Ryan, and published in Leslie Daiken's collection 'Good-Bye, Twilight: Songs of Struggle in Ireland' in 1936, entitled "Lines Written by an Irish Soldier in 1923".Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1936, p. 90 Its lyrics refer to the Irish Civil War (192223).

In the 1950s a version written by Dominic Behan specifically referred to the execution of four members of the IRA ExecutiveDubliner Rory O'Connor, who had commanded the Four Courts garrison at the outbreak of the Civil War, Galway Republican Liam Mellows, Cork republican Richard Barrett and Tyrone republican officer Joseph McKelvey. Their execution was a reprisal for the IRA's assassination on the previous day, 7 December 1922, of T.D Sen Hales.

The flag in question is the Irish tricolour, which the song tells supporters of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the Irish Free State to take down and cease using, as it is also the flag of the Irish Republic, which the "Free Staters" betrayed.

At the time, the Anti-Treaty IRA regarded their Civil War opponents as traitors and therefore unworthy to use the Irish tricolour.

Traditional lyrics

You have murdered our brave Liam and Rory

You have butchered young Richard and Joe

And your hands with their blood are still gory

Fulfilling the work of the foe.


So take it down from the mast, Irish traitors,

It's the flag we Republicans claim.

It can never belong to Free Staters,

For you've brought on it nothing but shame.

Then leave it to those who are willing

To uphold it in war and in peace,

To those men who intend to do killing

Until England's tyranny cease.


We'll stand by Enright and Larkin

With Daly and Sullivan the bold

And we'll break down the English connection

And bring back the nation you sold.


You sold out the Six Counties for your freedom

When we have given you McCracken and Wolfe Tone

And brave Ulstermen have fought for you in Dublin

Now you watch as we fight on alone.


And up in Ulster we're fighting on for freedom

For our people they yearn to be free

You executed those men who fought for us

With a hangman from over the sea.


'Repeat first stanza'


See also

* Executions during the Irish Civil War

* List of Irish ballads


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