More (Mostly) Folk Music

The Battering Ram   •   A Collection of Irish Rebel Songs

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  • A Collection of Irish Rebel Songs
    • 1972 - Rounder 4002 LP (USA)
  • Side One
    1. Take It Down From the Mast
    2. Seán South
    3. The Man From the Daily Mail
    4. Dungannon '57
    5. General Munro
    6. Swallow's Tail Reel/The Sligo Maid
    7. Henry Joy
  • Side Two
    1. Come Out and Fight
    2. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
    3. Foggy Dew
    4. Who Dares to Say & Medley of Reels:
      1. Fermoy Lasses
      2. Mrs. McLeod's Reel
      3. O'Rouke's Reel
      4. The Star of Munster
      5. Mountain Road
    5. British Army
    6. James Larkin
    7. Broad Black Brimmer

  • Credits
    • Recorded at Aengus Enterprises, Fayville, Mass
    • 1972; recording engineer: John Nagy
    • Notes by The Rounders; booklet enclosed
    • Thanks to Peter O'Malley for assistance in recording
    • Photography by Roger Carter & George Goguen
    • Graphics by Roger Carter
    • Produced by the Rounder Collective: Skip Ferguson, Ken Irwin, Bruce Kaplan, Marian Leighton, Bill Nowlin
    • Rounder Records, 65 Park Street, Somerville, Massachusetts 02143

Sleeve Notes

The Irish musical tradition is an exceptionally rich one and within that tradition there also exists a strong strain of protest music. It's a rare Irish folk group which does not incorporate at least one or two of the rebel songs into an evening's performance, though some of the groups favor the earlier songs which have the advantage of being both better known and less controversial since they deal with past events. The Battering Ram is a group of four young men who don't hesitate to sing and speak their feelings about current political events in Ireland.

Declan Hunt, Johnny Beggan and Seamus Walker all come from Dublin and form the core of the group. In Ireland they have recorded a set of seven albums for Billy McBurney's Outlet Records, leading producers of Irish rebel recordings. (McBurney was recently shot, wounded and temporarily placed in an internment camp , by British troops.) Clive Collins of Birmingham, England, joined the group and has been playing with them for several months now. The four are all excellent instrumentalists and, as is evident from the songs on this album, powerful yet sensitive singers as well. The songs range in date from 1798 right up to the past year or two, and we think they comprise the best recording of Irish rebel music available on album today. Unlike many interpretations of rebel songs, these are delivered with the excitement of experience and conviction. Full text and notes to the songs are enclosed within.

The Songs:


You have murdered our brave Liam and Rory [1]
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 Daly and Larkin
By the Provisionals and Sullivan the Bold [2]
And we'll break down the English connections
And we'll win back the nation you sold.


You sold out the Six Counties for your freedom
When we have" given you McCracken and Wolfe Tone [3]
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

SeáN SOUTH [4]

It was on a dreary New Year's Day
As the shades of night hang down
A lorry load of volunteers
Approached the border town.
There was men from Dublin and from Cork,
Fermanagh and Tyrone,
But the leader was a Limerick lad,
Seán South of Garryowen.

And as they marched along the streets
Up to the barracks door
When they found the danger they would meet,
The fate that lay in store,
They were fighting for old Ireland's cause
To claim their very own,
But their leader was a Limerick man,
Seán South of Garryowen.

But the sergeant spoiled their daring plans;
He spied them through the door.
With the Sten guns and the rifles
A hail of death did pour.
And when that awful night had passed
Two men lay cold as stone
There was one from near the border
And one from Garryowen.

May God reward those gallant men
May Heaven be their home.
'Twas in Brookeborough town
Where they got shot down
In a cabin they lay cold.
Well, they never feared the RUC [5]
Or B-Men on patrol [6]
O'Hanlon from the border And South from Garryowen.

No more he will hear the seagulls cry
Or the Shannon's murmuring tide
For he fell beneath the Northern sky,
Brave O'Hanlon at his side.
He is bound to join that gallant band
Of Plunkett, Pearse, and Tone [7]
A martyr for old Ireland
Seán South of Garryowen.


Oh, Ireland is a very funny place, sir,
It's a strange and a troubled land.
Oh, the Irish are a very funny race, sir,
Every girl's in Cumann Na mBan. [8]

Every doggy has a tri-colored ribbon
Tied firmly to its tail
And I wouldn't be surprising
If there'd be another rising
Said the man from the Daily Mail [9]

Every bird, upon my word,
Is singing treble, "I'm a rebel."
Every hen and jay, they're laying hand grenades
Over there, sir, I declare, sir.
And every cock in the farmyard stock
Is crowing for the Gael.
And I wouldn't be surprising
If there'd be another rising
Said the man from the Daily Mail.
Oh, the other day I traveled down to Clare, sir,
And I spied in an old boreen [10]
Such a bunch of Fenians there, sir, [11]
Dressed in orange, white, and green.
They were marching to the German goosestep
And whistling "Granuaile" [12]
Oh, I'm shaking in me shoes
As I'm sending out the news
Said the man from the Daily Mail.


Oh, the country is seething with sedition
It's Sinn Fein through and through
All the people they are joining the Provisionals [13]
And the password's "Sinn Fein", too. [14]
The I.R.A. has sent me a time bomb in the mail
So be Jasus and begorrah
I'll be gettin' out tomorrow
Said the man from the Daily Mail.

Repeat first stanza


Some men went to Dungannon town [15]
The barracks for to case
And notice how the Queen's army
Gave class to that new place.

With your I.R.A., ricochet, play it on your Lambeg drum [16]

The R.U.C. they knew that we
Had planned to have some sport
For they'd read a piece of our police
In the Free State news report.

The R.U.C. had read the news
And said, "Well, now, that's that."
When suddenly to their surprise
There came a rat-tat-tat.


Well, what's goin' on out there, they said,
Now come and stop this lark.
Are you Protestants or Fenian men
That's out there in the dark?


An R.U.C. man went outside
Came right in again
When he found that he was looking down
The barrel of a Sten.


They blew the barracks up that night
And the R.U.C. as well
And if the British soldiers came, they said,
They'd blow them all to Hell.


There are ten loyal policemen now
They're signing on the dole
And they'd love to get those Irish bastards
And shove it up his hole.


My name is George Campbell; at the age of eighteen
I joined the Unitedmen to strive for the green.
And many is the battle I did undergo
With our hero commander, brave General Munro. [17]

Have you heard of the battle of Ballynahinch
When the people, oppressed, they rose up in defense?
When Munro left the mountains, his men took the field
And they fought for twelve hours and never did yield.

Munro being tired and in want of his sleep
Gave a woman ten guineas his secret to keep.
When she had the money, the Devil tempted her soul;
She sent for the soldiers and surrendered Munro.

The soldiers they came and surrounded the place
And they took him to Lisburn and they lodged him in jail
And his father and mother is passing that way
Heard the very last words that their dear son did say.

"I'll die for my country as I've fought for her cause
And I don't fear her soldiers nor yet heed your laws."
And let every true man who hates Ireland's foe
Fight bravely for freedom like Henry Munro.

'Twas early next morning when the sun was still low
They murdered our hero, brave General Munro,
And high o'er the courthouse stuck his head on a spear
For to make the Unitedmen tremble with fear.

Up came Munro's sister, she was all dressed in green,
With a sword by her side that was well-sharped and keen,
Saying "God save old Ireland" and away she did go, baying,
"I'll have revenge for my brother Munro."

Oh you good men who listen, just think of the fate
Of our heroes who died in the year '98
For Ireland your nation would be free long ago
If her sons were all rebels like Henry Munro.


An Ulsterman I'm proud to be
From the Antrim Glens I come
And though I labor by the sea
I have followed flag and drum.

I have heard the martial tramp of men,
I've seen men fight and die.
And as to Eire, I remember when
I followed Henry Joy.

I pulled my boat in from the sea
And I hid my sails away.
I put my nets under a tree
And I scanned the moonlit bay.

The boys were out, the Redcoats, too,
I kissed my wife goodbye.
And there beneath that greenwood shade
I followed Henry Joy.

Well we fought for Ireland's glory then
For home and shire we bled
Though our numbers few, our hearts beat true
And five to one lay dead.

Aye, and many a mother mourned her lad
And many a man his boy,
For youth was strong in that gallant throng
That followed Henry Joy.

In Belfast town they built a tree
And the Redcoats mustered there
I heard him come and the beating of the drum
Did sound o'er the barracks square.

He kissed his sister, went aloft,
And said a sad goodbye.
And as he died, I turned and I cried
You have murdered Henry Joy.


I was born in a Dublin street where the loyal drums did beat
And the loving English feet, they tramped all over us,
And every single night as me father came home tight,
He'd invite the neighbors outside with this chorus:

Come , out ye Black and Tans [19]
Come out and fight me like a man.
Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders.
Tell them how the I.R.A. made you run like Hell away
From the green and lovely lanes of Killeshandra.

Come let me hear you tell how you slammed the brave Parnell [20]
When you thought him truly well and persecuted.
Where are the sneers and jeers that you bravely let us hear
When our leaders of '16 were executed.

Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, [21] how you bravely call them swine,
Robert Emmet, who you hung and drew and quartered. [22]
High upon the scaffold high how you murdered Henry Joy
And our Croppy Boys in Wexford you did slaughter. [23]

Well, the day is coming fast and the time is nearly past
When each shoneen will be cast aside before us [24]
And if there be a need, then me kids will say Godspeed
With a bar or two of Stephen Behan's chorus.



I sat within the valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love.

The old for her, the new that made me
Think of Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen,
And shook the golden barley.

How hard the bitter words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us.

And so I said, the mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the brave Unitedmen
While soft wind shakes the barley.

How sad I kissed away her tears
Her soft arms round me clinging
When suddenly the foe men shot
From out of wild woods ringing.

The bullet pierced my tru love's heart
In life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley.

But blood for blood without remorse
I'll take at Oulart Hollow [26]
And I have lain her grey cold corpse
Where I full soon must follow.

As round her grave I wandered drear
Night, noon, and morning early,
With breaking heart when e'er
I hear The wind that shakes the barley.


As down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I
There armored lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipes did hum; the battle drum
Did sound its loud tattoo
And the Angelus bell
O'er the Liffey Swell
Rang out in the foggy dew.

But the bravest fell
And the Requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died at Eastertime
In the springtime of the year.
And the world did gaze, with deep amaze,
At those fearless men but few
Who bore the fight, that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.

But the night was black, and the rifle's crack
Made perfidious Albion reel.
'Neath the leaden rain
Several tongues of flame
Did burn o'er the lines of steel.
And by each shining blade
A prayer was said
That to Ireland our sons would be true
And when morning broke
Still the war flag shook
Its' folds in the foggy dew.

It was England bade our wild geese go
That small nations might be free
But their lonely graves
Are by Suvla's waves
O'er the fringe of the gray North Sea.
O, had they died by Pearse's side,
Or fought with Connolly, too,
Then their graves we would keep
Where the Fenians sleep
'Neath the shrouds of the foggy dew.

Back to the glen I rode again;
My heart with grief was sore.
For I parted then with valiant men
I will never see no more.
As to and fro
In my dreams I go
And I kneel and I pray for you
When slavery fled all you rebel dead
When you fell in the foggy dew.


Who dares to say forget the past
To men of Irish birth?
Who dares to say cease fighting
For our place upon this earth?
Let remembrance be our watchword
And our dead we'll never fail.
Let their graves be to us as milestones
On that blood-soaked one-way trail.
Remember how Owen Roe fought,
Leinster Mill beside. [29]
No man can say a coward fell
When Hugh O'Donnell died. [30]
Remember Ruth and Sarsfield [31]
And forget whoever will
That glorious stand at Limerick
At Kill McCadden hill. [32]
How Emmet's gallant handful
In historic Dublin town
Came out to give their challenge
To the forces of the Crown.
And then for a time, 'twas silence
Was Ireland's struggle done?
The answer's in the negative
Thundered manv a Fenian gun.
And then when England thought she'd won,
That we at last were meek,
Roared forth the glorious challenge
Of the men of Easter Week.
Remember how our soldiers fought
The scum of many lands.
Fought the scum of British prisons
And Britain's Black and Tans.
And then, by men we trusted,
This land of ours was sold;
They sold their friends to enemies
As Judas did of old.
Remember how in Kerry
They butchered our lads like swine. [33]
God, think of Ballyseedy,
Where they tied them to a mine.
How Rory and Liam and Dick and Joe,
To glut the imperial beast,
Were murdered while in prison
On our Blessed Lady's Feast.
How with overworked revolver
As he dashed from that hotel
Roared a rebel's last defiance
As Cathal Brugha fell. [34]
Hear we not the voice of Connolly,
The worker's soldier friend?
The conquered soul asserts itself
And we shall rise again.
For freedom, yes, and not to starve,
And not for rocks and clay;
But for the lives of Ireland's working class
We fight and die today.
And what, says Cathal Brugha,
If the last man is on the ground,
If he's lying weak and helpless
And his enemies ring him 'round;
If he's fired his last bullet,
If he's fired his final shot,
And they say, "Come into the Empire."
He should answer, "I will NOT."
Then back, back to that one-way trail
Ni Siochan Go Saoirse is the war cry of the Gael. [35]
While our country stands beside us
With the blood of martyrs set
Wayside crosses to remind us,
Who dares to say forget?
While Emmet's tomb is uninscribed
Until we our rights assert;
Until our country takes her place
Among the nations of the earth.


When I was young I had a twist
For punching babies with me fist
And then I thought I would enlist
And join the British Army.

Oh too ra loo ra loo ra loo
They're looking for monkeys up in the zoo
And if I had a face like you
I'd join the British Army.

When I was young I used to be
As fine a lad as ever you'd see
And the Prince of Wales, he says to me,
"Come join the British Army."


Corporal Daly went away
He left his sweet in the family way
And the only thing that she could say
Was "Blame the British Army."


Ian Paisley has the drought.
Fill him up with Guinness's stout
He'll beat the enemy with his mouth
And save the British Army.


We beat the enemy without fuss
And leave their bones out in the dust
I know for they quite near beat us
The gallant British Army.


So if you're young and in your prime
And fond of every kind of crime
I promise you a jolly good time
Inside the British Army.

Too ra loo ra loo ra loo
I've made me mind up what to do
Well, I'll work me ticket home to you
And I'd fuck the British Army.


In Dublin city in 1913
The boss was boss and the poor were slaves,
The women working and the children hungry,
Then on came Larkin like a might wave.

The workmen cringed when the bossman thundered
And just ten hours was his weekly chore
He asked for little and less was granted
Thus getting little he would ask for more.

Then God sent Larkin, so dark and handsome,
A might man with a mighty tongue,
The voice of justice, the voice of labor,
And he was gifted and he was young.

And God sent Larkin, in 1913,
A mighty man with a mighty tongue,
He raised the workers, he gave them courage;
He was their leader, a worker's son.

In the month of August the bossman told us
No union man for him could work.
We stood for Larkin, we told the bossman,
We'd fight or die but we would not shirk.

Eight months we fought and eight months we starved
We stood by Larkin through thick and thin.
But foodless homes and the crying of children,
They broke our hearts and we could not win.

Then Larkin left us, we seemed defeated,
The night was dark for the working man.
Along came Connolly with hope and counsel
His motto was that we'd rise again.

In Dublin city, in 1916,
The English soldiers, they burned the town.
They shelled the buildings, they shot our leaders.
Their heart was buried beneath the Crown.

They shot MacDermott and Pearse and Plunkett,
They shot MacDonagh and Clarke the brave [38]
From bleak Kilmainham they took their bodies
To Arbour Hill and a quick lime grave. [39]

And last of all our seven heroes
I'll sing the praise of James Connolly.
The voice of justice, the voice of freedom,
Who gave his life that men might be free.


There's a uniform hanging in what's known as father's room,
A uniform so simple in its style.
It has no braid of silk nor gold, no hat with feathered plume,
Yet me mother has preserved it all the while.

One day she made me try it on, a wish of mine for years,
"Just in memory of your father, Seán," she said.
And as I tried the Sam Brown on she was smiling through her tears
And she placed the broad black brimmer on me head.

It's just a broad, black brimmer,
Its ribbons frayed and torn
By the carelessness of many's the mountains breeze,
An old trench coat that's all battle-stained and worn
And the britches almost threadbare at the knees.
A Sam Brown belt with a buckle big and strong
And a holster that's been empty many the day.
Oh, when men claim Ireland's freedom,
The one they'll choose the lead 'em
Will wear the broad black brimmer of the I.R.A.

That uniform was worn by me father long ago
When he reached me mother's homestead on the run;
That uniform was worn in that little church below
When Father Mac, he blessed the pair as one.

Then after truce and treaty and the parting of the ways
He wore it as he marched out with the rest,
And as they bore his body down the rugged heather braes,
They placed the broad black brimmer on his breast.

Repeat first stanza

An understanding of the crisis in Ireland today is not possible unless one comprehends the following statement by G. Desmond Greaves: "The conflict is not between two sets of discriminators, but between those who want to divide the people and those who want to unite them." [41] The question of religion is not merely a smokescreen, However. It has deep historic roots in the days when English colonizers asserted and established power over the native peoples of Ireland. The natives were Catholic; the waves of English and Scottish settlers were Protestant. "If the setting were Algiers, rather than Belfast, the differences of skin color would lead us immediately to identify racism as the core of the problem. But in the Irish setting, religious affiliation, rather than skin color, has marked the social identities of the two groups, colonizers and colonized. This crucial difference has obscured the mechanisms at work and confused many outside observers. Our thoughts move too quickly to the Catholic Church and its viciously reactionary institutional role in places like Spain and Latin America, to allow us to understand what it means for an Irishman to think of himself as a Catholic ," [42] Conor Cruise O'Brien, writing in the New York Review of Books, elaborates,

Basically, religious affiliation was-and is- socially, economically, and politically significant, for it distinguishes, with very few exceptions, the natives and their children from the 17th century settlers and their children. The British Crown, in the post-Reformation period, naturally favored the settlement of loyal Protestants, and the dispossession of natives, whose support of the Counter-Reformation was necessarily a form of rebellion: politics and religion were inseparable from the start.

The Protestant settlers-Scotch and English- were the gainers, the Catholic natives were the losers: antagonistic collective interests were established immediately. The natives were dispossessed, but not exterminated nor assimilated nor converted to Protestantism. Their Catholicism became the badge of their identity and their defiance. After the destruction of the Gaelic social order by the end of the 17th Century and the substitution of English for the Gaelic language-a process completed by the mid 19th century-the Catholic Church became almost the sole form of social cohesion of the native people. [43]

Nevertheless, those who have fought for Irish freedom have always stressed religious toleration. Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken, and Henry Munro, and the United Irishmen of 1798 exemplify this truth. So does the Easter Week proclamation. As do the contemporary activities of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (WICRA) and many other groups. The I.R.A. has always adopted this position, as have essentially all Republican groups. From time to time, of course, there have been instances of sectarian fighting, hardly surprising in light of the numerous provocations. There has never been a Catholic association devoted to the abolition of Protestantism, while there have been several groups (such as Paisley's) organized against Catholicism. The tricolor flag with its green and orange symbolizes the desire for unity.

"Religious sectarianism originated not in Ireland but in Britain, whose revolution was fought under the slogans of the Reformation. The final expropriation of the Irish tribal lands proceeded under the only excuse which would justify naked robbery to the British people. This was protection against the papacy, for practical purposes enshrined not in the spiritual power of Rome, but in the military designs of Spain and France… Ireland from 1782 to 1800 had legislative independence. But only Protestants could vote or sit in Parliament, which thus became the central executive committee of the landlord class… (Wolfe Tone's) proposal was to enfranchise the Catholics when inevitably landlordism would be swept away, Ireland undergoing a revolution similar to that of France. Rather than face such a prospect, the landlords fell in with the British oligarchy in submerging the Irish representation in Westminster through the Act of Union." [45]

The partition of Ireland was designed to prevent a united, revolutionary Ireland. It had become apparent over the years that the Act of Union was not working and that the Irish would incessantly fight to be free. The English ruling class and the landlord class of Northern Ireland shared the fear of a socialist republic in Ireland, for obvious reasons. Trade union solidarity between English and Irish workers, as indicated in British workers' support of the 1913 strike of the Dublin Transport Workers, made revolutionary contagion a real threat in England as well. Thus, rather than allow full independence for all of Ireland, the ruling classes cleverly partitioned Ireland into two different zones. Greaves feels that stifling revolution was the primary reason. English imperialism also stood to gain in other ways. The Free State lost 29 % of its population, the main industrial areas, the largest port, and 40 % of the taxable capacity of the country as the Six Counties were brought under the control of Westminster. (The Stormont parliament in Ulster has control overonly 10 % of tax revenues, and has almost no real power at all. Any doubts as to the degree of Ulster independence from Westminster were erased by the stationing of British troops in the Six Counties. Currently the occupying force numbers around 25,000.) With the loss of the industrial areas, the 26 counties were faced with a severely unfavorable balance of trade, and the need for machinery and equipment. Two things resulted: over-reliance on agriculture and the cattle industry (the most socially backward elements of the, society) and the necessity to admit foreign investments, thus-resulting in a classically neo-colonial situation in the Free State while the Six Counties of Ulster remain fundamentally colonial. Greaves quotes Brian O'Neill as observing the start of the process forty years ago: "Landlordism has been replaced by Bondlordism." [46]

It has become popular in recent years to refer to Ireland as "Britain's Vietnam" and the parallels are obvious. The unity of British and American imperialism was dramatically demonstrated b the recent July 1972 invasion of citizen-controlled areas by over 20,000 British troops. The following day William Whitelaw, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, publicly thanked President Richard Nixon on the floor of the House of Commons. "Without President Nixon's permission, Whitelaw explained, the British could not have abandoned their N.A.T.O. commitments to send extra troops to Northern Ireland… without the extra troops the invasion could not have been carried out. Whitelaw wanted to take this opportunity, he said, 'to thank our American allies.' He assured the Members of Parliament that President Nixon has been fully briefed on 'Operation Motorman1 in advance of the event." [47]

Jack Lynch, Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland also knew. This provides further ammunition, of course, for the sentiments embodied here in the song "Take It Down From the Mast." It has been said that "the founders of the Irish Free State were men of petit-bourgeois origin, who out of fear of its ultimate logic allowed themselves to become the agency of halting a popular revolution, thus handing power to the bourgeoisie." [48] The Prime.Minister has a nephew, Captain Lynch of the British First Paratroop Battalion, which as of August 1972 occupied the Ballymurphy section of Belfast. [49]

The objection is often raised that a united Ireland would simply reverse the pattern of discrimination, with the Ulster Protestants being placed in the minority. Britain partitioned Ireland, the Irish people did not. By arbitrarily cutting the country into two parts, and both building a gerrymander onto and encouraging traditional social cleavages, the British essentially gave a minority the "power of veto on the unity of Ireland." There is no doubt that if the will of the people of all 32 counties had been expressed that the majority would have overwhelmingly voted for complete independence from England. So essentially a minority of the people were given majority control in a section of the country, though nothing more than a simple gerrymander created in collusion between the wealthy elements in Northern Ireland and their stooges and the Westminster Parliament in London. The question is one of democracy: are the Irish people as a whole to be allowed to settle their own affairs by majority rule, or does Britain retain the right to divide, partition, and enforce dependency? Again, the military occupation in Northern Ireland leaves no doubt as to how they see it.

The movement for a united Ireland takes the form of civil rights agitation in both North and South-in the South there currently is resistance to bourgeois rule, evidenced in a series of rent strikes and workers control agitation. After a two-month occupation of their factory at Navan, the workers of Crarmac Teo have formed a cooperative and purchased the plant from the liquidators. In the North, the celebrated "no-go areas" were living examples of citizens government until the British invasion and reoccupation of July. The widespread refusal to pay gas and electric bills continues.

The tragedy of division in the Republican ranks continues, and the differences of opinion between the Official and Provisional wings have at times exploded into fightings and even killings. It's a characteristic feature of revolutionary movements that they often dissipate more time fighting other factions than the real enemy. Feelings run deep, though, as the Officials accuse the Provisionals of indiscriminate terroristic bombing alienating the great majority of the people from the Republican cause and certainly doing a great deal to eliminate any possibility of united Protestant and Catholic action. The United Irishman calls the Provisional leader "Mad Jack" MacStiofain and criticizes them for meeting with Whitelaw. "For even while Seán MacStiofain's boys were liberating working people's arms and legs from their bodies, while the internees languished in Long Kesh, another sell-out was being arranged… The only tangible result of all the Provisionals' actions has been an increase in sectarian tensions almost to the point of civil war, a seat for Mad Jack at the sell-out table, many deaths and widespread confusion amongst the people as to what was going on." [51]

Writing from such a distance as we are, it is difficult to comment much further. The Provisionals may deserve credit for carrying the struggle to a more active stage than civil rights marches, yet it does seem as though they must be held responsible for a degeneration of the struggle as described above. Obviously the future of Ireland rests in the capacity of the Republican ranks to somehow close, and also for people in other lands to exert pressure on the British.' The English working class can play the strongest role here', but persons of all classes in America and elsewhere must add their weight as well.

The Battering Ram's songs present a fairly consistent statement, though members of the group are admittedly not thoroughly political in their orientation. As noted above, they have mixed Officials songs with Lyrics talking of "joining the Provisionals." They have played in both an Official and. a Provisional club on the same evening. They probably are closer in personal sympathies to the Provisionals and say that if it wasn't for them, the struggle might not exist today. (As may have been clear, we tend to favor the Official I.R.A. interpretation of the situation.) But while the Battering Ram have not attempted to work out a consistent political philosophy for themselves, they have and are quite evidently contributing greatly to the cause they all believe in. Johnny explains that they have never been in the I.R.A. as they just do not have the required discipline-the I.R.A, is a 24-hour-a-day calling. One must be ready at any moment to follow directives in a disciplined fashion. Constant drilling and political education are important, as are the missions, both offensive and defensive, for which members must be ready at all times.

  • Notes
    1. Liam Mellows, Rory O'Connor, Joe McKelvey, and Dick Barrett were executed by the Irish Free State government two days after the government officially came into being, the executions taking place on Dec. 8, 1922. The executions were official reprisals for I.R.A. operations elsewhere in the Dublin area; the four men executed were already imprisoned at the time two pro-treaty deputies were shot. The four had been very active in opposing the treaty which established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion of the British Empire (the Government of Ireland Act.) This treaty effectively partitioned Ireland into North and South and, naturally, those who had been fighting for a united Irish Republic resisted the treaty. For Cathal Brugha's reaction, see the paraphrasing of the speech Brugha gave before he walked out of the Dail (parliament), never to return. ("Who Dares To Say", included in this album. At this point the Dail was a revolutionary parliament. By signing the treaty, it became "legal", in British eyes.) The Irish Republican Army was founded on March 26, 1922, to resist the treaty and those who signed it. The treaty had passed 64-57 on Jan. 7, 1922. The I.R.A. essentially tried to establish an alternative government, occupying the Four Courts in Dublin, 'seat of juridical control for Ireland. Mellows, O'Connor, McKelvey, and Barrett were active at the Four Courts garrison, finally blasted out by the Free State (which used guns borrowed from the British.)
    2. It has been difficult to identify all of these persons although there are some with the same names. It is possible that The Battering Ram have simply mixed various names from different times together. We can find no reference in our research to "Sullivan the Bold."
    3. Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), founder of the Society of United Irishmen. Not a Catholic, generally anti-clerical, he formed what was essentially the first movement for Irish independence. Influenced greatly by the French Revolution, he tried repeatedly to get French support and participation in an invasion of Ireland to drive the British out. Two attempts at actual invasion failed, Tone was captured, and cut his own throat on the morning he was due to be hanged. Because of his goal of uniting Catholics and Protestants, and success in this direction, he has remained a central figure in Irish Nationalist history. As can be seen in our notes to "General Munro" and "Henry Joy", there have been many Protestants active in the fight for Irish freedom.
    4. Seán South was a 27 year old clerk from Limerick and Fergal O'Hanlon a 19 year old from Monaghan, among those who participated in a raid on the R.U.C. barracks at Brookeborough on January 1, 1957. The raid was a failure as the mines they brought failed to explode; a grenade thrown at the barracks bounced back and exploded under the raiders' dump truck (they did not march up to the barracks door), while the R.U.C. fired at and hit several exposed raiders. The truck roared off but South and O'Hanlon were unconscious and were left in a cow-byre where they died. The I.R.A. felt that they had been finished off b.: the R.U.C. as they lay unconscious, but this seems to be doubtful. The song "The Patriot Game" is said to be about O'Hanlon, which should be reassuring for those who wonder why South is getting all the attention here.
    5. The Royal Ulster Constabulary, police force in Northern Ireland of temporary constables. Often worked in association with the B-Specials.
    6. B-Men or B-Special Corpsmen. An organization formed in 1919 by the British Lord Brookeborough, who lived at, of all places, Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh. The role of the 3-srecials was as a militant anti-Catholic vigilante group, and" responsibility for many acts of terror and murder lies with them. The B-Specials were often called on by the Ulster government to help put down rebellions or protests.
    7. Joseph Plunkett and Patrick Pearse were leaders in the famous Easter Week 1916 Uprising, executed by the British after their surrender. The 1916 Uprising has been documented extensively elsewhere. Tone is referred to in note #3 above.
    8. Cumann na mBan (League of the Women). The women's branch of the I.R.A., active fighters as in the 1956 attempt to spring Cathal Goulding from the prison in Wakefield, an attempt called off at the last moment as the police had apparently been alerted. As is often the case, the role of women in revolutionary struggle is not given the same attention as that of the men; it was quite difficult to find much on Cumann na mBan in our research.
    9. A very conservative London newspaper.
    10. A lane.
    11. The Fenian Brotherhood, formed in 1856, a revolutionary republican, oath-bound military group, also known as the I.R.B. Formed in America, the group had influence back and forth between Ireland and America. See also note #21 below.
    12. A popular air.
    13. The Provisional wing of the I.R.A. See our essay on contemporary Irish situation.
    14. Sinn Fein: Ourselves Alone. Also the name of the organization Sinn Fein. Began in the first years of this century as a "self-help" movement, revived in different forms at later time, currently a socialist party, a far cry from the days of James Larkin (note #37 below.)
    15. The story pretty much tells itself. A reporter from the Daily Mail discovered plans to blow up the customs post at Dungannon and printed it in the paper. The Irish Times figured when it was printed that the I.R.A. would not go ahead with their plans and thus security was relaxed.
    16. A big drum that the Orangemen use in their parades.
    17. Henry Munro, a Lisburn linen-draper was elected leader of a 7000-man rebel army from Co. Down, during the United Irishmen revolt of 1798. Munro was a Protestant from Scotland, and head of the local Masonic lodge, yet a leader in the fight against British rule. The "army" he led was very loosely organized, undisciplined, and rapidly began to dissolve as they saw the British advance on Ballynahinch. Around 400 rebels were killed in the fighting, which saw heroic resistance on the part of the townspeople, with women especially active. The "Presbyterian uprising" ended with the defeat at Ballynahinch. Reportedly the too-Catholic nature of the revolt at Wexford disenchanted many who had hoped for an all-Ireland uprising without the injection of religion. In Wexford, Catholic priests led rebel armies, some dying in the fighting. Henry Munro was hanged right in front of his shop door. See also reference below to Henry Joy McCracken.
    18. Henry Joy McCracken, friend of Tone's (note #3), a Protestant by birth, had gathered around 4000 men from Antrim as part of the massive peasant uprising of May 1798; the revolt saw over 100,000 peasants revolt and left over 30,000 dead in four months. McCracken was essentially the leader of the Northern uprising and led his army in a march on Antrim to cut the road between Derry and Belfast. The uprisings were coordinated and successful elsewhere, and at first McCracken's force was also successful, taking the town center of Antrim. But a false alarm caused a retreat, and British reinforcements arrived shortly, McCracken's plans having been let out by treacherous colonels under him. In bitter fighting, his cannon failed and the rebel army dissolved away quickly. McCracken and Henry Munro were both hanged.
    19. The Black and Tans was an auxiliary force created in 1920 to enforce an official policy of terror. The British could not proclaim martial law, but needed extra police powers. The Black-and-Tans burned, looted, destroyed, and killed. Criminals were released from prison if they volunteered to join. British "law-keepers" have always been exceptionally vicious throughout Irish history.
    20. Charles Stewart Parnell, Parliamentary leader of Irish in the Westminster parliament. Refer to any encyclopedia for more information.
    21. W.P. Allen, Michael Larkin, Michael O'Brien were among those arrested in Manchester, England, in 1867 as a group of 17 volunteers freed Col. T.J. Kelly and Capt. Michael Deasy (Irish-Americans with U.S. military commissions), both active in the Fenian Brotherhood, and trying to organize a rebellion. A policeman was accidentally killed and every known Irish person in Manchester arrested. The three were hanged, after admitting to be part of the rescue party. None of the three had killed the policeman. Allen's last words were "God Save Ireland" and a song by that title became the anthem of Irish nationalists.
    22. Robert Emmet, who led an insurrection in 1803, a continuation of the 1798 uprising. The attempt was to center on a rising in Dublin, to spread by example, rather than as a mass uprising, the plan might have succeeded, except for failures of communication that resulted in many of the rebels not receiving the word. The British were so completely unaware of any potential attempt that Castle gates were wide open and no artillery or cavalry in Dublin at all. Emmet was executed after several weeks of hiding near Dublin.
    23. The idle rich wore their hair long, while workers and peasants wore theirs close-cropped. "Croppy" became the name applied to any rebel peasant in 1798. All of the rebel leaders were, hanged, anyone suspect was flogged, and hangings and house-burnings went on for weeks in vengeance. The severity of this vengeance, inflicted by the wealthier yeomanry on the defeated rebels, shocked English generals, one of whom said in protest, "If I were an Irishmen, I would be a rebel."
    24. Shoneen: "an Irishman who licks up to the British"- Johnny Beggan.
    25. A traditional song from the 1798 Unitedmen uprising.
    26. A spot near Wexford where Father John Murphy gathered rebels for the 1798 uprising. (See also notes #17 & 23.)
    27. A well-known song, referring to Easter Week 1916. Seamus says it was originally a poem and then somebody rut words to it.
    28. Johnny says that the people who can't sing all know recitations like this. This he first learned and later performed at Donohue's Pub, got it from Hughie McCormack, who would play the fiddle all night and occasionally mix in a recitation. "There's millions of those around." It is essentially a "party piece," thus. As mentioned above, this a paraphrasing of a speech by Cathal Brugha, though obviously drawing on later events as well.
    29. Owen Roe, an O'Neill, with a poorly armed guerrilla force of 5000 defeated a larger British trained army of 6000 at Benburb in June 1646.
    30. Red Hugh O'Donne'11 (Aedh Ruadh) had spent four years in jail as only a suspect and became increasingly anti-British. He became the last of the Gaelic kings as his father resigned in his favor. The Northern chiefs rose, and under Hugh O'Neill and others had scored major victories against the British forces before being defeated. During this time, Spanish & Irish fought the British together.
    31. St. Ruth was sent by Louis XIV of France in 1691 as a Military commander to help the Irish resistance to British re-establishment of power in Ireland under William III, prince of Orange. Trying to defeat the British approach to Galway, he fell and the Irish lost, Patrick Sarsfield was a popular Irish general, responsible for William's failure to take Limerick as the Irish held this last town, his courage inspiring the troops. After several months, Limerick finally gave in.
    32. Presumably a part of the resistance at Limerick.
    33. The repression of the anti-treaty forces was severe and did include men being chained to mines, then exploded, tortures, and so forth. The Civil War cost over 700 lives. See note #1. I.R.A. military genius Michael Gollins has had several books written about him; Kerry was the site of the most vicious events.
    34. Cathal Brugha (1874-1922). An anti-treaty man who had his differences with Collins but was equally militant at times, at one point leading a group of volunteers who stayed in London ready to machine-gun the British Government from the visitors gallery in the House of Commons if they passed a bill to conscript Irishmen. Among the leaders of the resistance to the selling out of the Six Counties, Brugha was the last holdout, leader of a small group left behind at I.R.A. headquarters to carry on resistance while others (including DeValera) evacuated to be free to try to organize guerrilla war from the countryside, since the Dublin fight had obviously been lost. From inside burning buildings the 21 volunteers held out until finally Brugha suggested they surrender before the walls collapsed. They did, and after everyone else had surrendered, Cathal Brugha ran out, a revolver in each hand, firing until he was cut down.
    35. Ni Siochan Go Saoirse: "there is no peace without freedom".
    36. Obvioulsy a provocative contemporary song. Paisley is, of course, the well-known Protestant "reverend," one of the vocal leaders of militant Protestantism. "Work me ticket" means, in this context, to fake mental illness to get out of the British Army.
    37. James Larkin, head of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union, led strike of transport workers in Dublin in August 1913. The strike failed, according to many because of -Larkin's penchant for inflammatory speechmaking; the police attacked a meeting at which he spoke, killing three with their batons and injuring scores. Larkin was arrested and sympathetic strikes began, as did employers lockouts. James Connolly, the Ulster organizer for the Union, came to Dublin end let the fight of public indignation which forced Larkin's release from prison. Funds poured in from English and Scottish workers, and more than offset a reactionary front which included the Catholic hierarchy and even Sinn Fein. A general rise in class-consciousness resulted from the frankly socialist leadership of Larkin and Connolly. Larkin began drilling the "Citizen Army", the group which led the Easter-Week rebellion later. Connolly was probably the greatest theorist Irish rebels have ever had, a brilliant socialist whose works are still widely respected in many countries,
    38. Seán McDermott (MacDiarmada), Patrick (Padraig) Pearse, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Thomas MacDonagh, and Thomas Clarke all were among those shot, as was Connolly, for their leadership roles in the faster Week rising.
    39. Kilmainham Prison in Dublin.
    40. The Battering Ram first heard it in a Provisional club in the Falls area of Belfast. The Officials have a club nearby in the same cemetery. Both the Officials and the Provisionals sing the same song but change the reference to their wing of the I.R.A. The Battering Ram has been known to sing in both clubs on the same night, which would probably be considered cause for ostracism by both in the divisive state of affairs today. Since the I.R.A. (both branches) now wear black berets, rather than broad black brimmers, the song is changing words currently.
    41. C. Desmond Greaves, The Irish Crisis, International Publishers, New York, 1972, p. 74.
    42. O'Brien, "Holy War," New York review of Books, Nov. 6, 1969, p. 10.
    43. The Provisionals seem to be closer to encouraging a self-defeating Catholic-Protestant schism, and this the source of some of their disagreements with the Official wing of the I.R.A. The Officials try very hard to bridge any such gap. The July, 1972 United Irishman (Official newspaper) reports a new Republican club founded in .Derry, named after Rev. Steele Dixon, another Northern Presbyterian leader of the 1793 struggle.
    44. Greaves, op. cit., p. 61.
    45. Ibid., p. 38.
    46. McKinney, Jack, "Britain Thanks Nixon as Ally in Ulster Invasion," Philadelphia Daily News, Aug. 13, 1972, p. 28.
    47. Greaves, p. 35.
    48. Philadelphia Daily News, p. 28.
    49. Greaves, p. 16.
    50. United Irishman, "Civil nights: Still the Main Issue," p. 8.