Take It Down from the Mast

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"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".[1] Its lyrics refer to the Irish Civil War (1922–23).

In the 1950s a version written by Dominic Behan [2] specifically referred to the judicial murder of four members of the IRA Executive—Dubliner 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 murder of Sean Hales, TD the day before, December 7, 1922.

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, as it is 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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1936, p. 90
  2. ^ Nick Guida. "the Dominic Behan discography (1957-1961) at theBalladeers". Theballadeers.com. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 

External links[edit]