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Origins: Take it Down from the Mast

GUEST,JTT 30 Nov 12 - 12:10 AM
MartinRyan 30 Nov 12 - 03:19 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Nov 12 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,JTT 30 Nov 12 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,JTT 30 Nov 12 - 03:47 AM
MartinRyan 30 Nov 12 - 04:19 AM
MartinRyan 30 Nov 12 - 04:23 AM
Jim McLean 30 Nov 12 - 04:40 AM
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Subject: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 12:10 AM

Wikipedia says Dominic Behan wrote Take it Down from the Mast in the 1950s, but I'm pretty sure I have it in an earlier version in a 1920s songbook of Volunteer songs. Am I dreaming, or was it a Twenties song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 03:19 AM

To the best of my knowledge, it's a Dominic Behan song alright. I'd have collected or seen many of the early songbooks and don't recall noticing anything that looked like it. I can check in the Irish Traditional Music Archive next time I'm in Dublin.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 03:40 AM

I'd be interested in what you find out Martin - I've always assumed it was by Behan, but this note of a BBC site entitled 'War and Conflict - 1916 Easter Rising' is somewhat ambiguous and suggests that this might not be the case.

"Many of the songs written during the civil war were written by and for those who fought on the republican side. They invariably dealt with the atrocities of the Free State troops and the betrayal of the republican ideal of a thirty-two county Ireland. The song Take It Down From the Mast captures the sense of betrayal felt by those who took up arms against the new state. It is perhaps surprising that one seldom hears a song in praise of the two most outstanding individuals of that time, Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera. Nor does one hear a song in praise of the Irish Free State."

Perhaps Zozimus has some information (if he's not too busy milking the Kangaroos yet!!)
The tune is obviously adapted from 'Red River Valley' which was also used for the Spanish Civil War song, 'The Valley of Jarama'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 03:43 AM

Found it! In Good-Bye, Twilight, a collection of ballads compiled by Leslie H Daiken, published in 1936 with illustrations by Harry Kernoff, it's titled "Lines Written by a Republican Soldier in 1923", and is credited to James Ryan. It doesn't have the lines about Rory and Liam and Dick and Joe. Here it is:

Lines Written by a Republican Soldier in 1923

Take it down from the mast, Irish traitors,
'Tis the flag we Republicans claim.
It can never be owned by Free Staters
Who shed nothing upon it but shame.
Then leave it to those who are willing,
To uphold it in war or in peace,
Those men who intend to do killing
Until England's tyranny cease.

Take it down from the mast to remember
Your comrades who fell in the fight,
Those brave men who'd never surrender
To John Bull, that big tyrant of might.
The flag which to these men spelt freedom
From a foe that is centuries old;
Looking back on the past we can see them
Defending the green, white and gold.

I saw it in all the bright glory
When first it was flung to the wind,
When of freedom they told us the story
That no other nation could find,
When of martyrs their blood often freed us
Till a traitor to England had sold
The land that now sorely doth need us
To fight for the green, white and gold.

Take it down for its cause you have scornèd
To make permanent o'er us the Crown
You who linked yourself up with the foemen
The tricolour then to pull down.
'Tis we and no other can claim it
For to-day joined as one we stand, bold,
To fight England combined with Free Staters
In defence of the green, white and gold.
JAMES RYAN

(By the way, anyone taken with the ethos might be interested to read Gene Sharpe's influential handbook on non-violent revolution, From Dictatorship to Democracy )


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 03:47 AM

By the way, I assume Jim Ryan would be the Jim Ryan cited.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 04:19 AM

Hah! It was nagging at me that I had read that Dominic claimed his father used to roll home drunk singing the chorus from this song - which suggested an earlier version. By the time I got back to my computer - JTT had come come up with it!

I don't recall Daiken's book - though his name is ringing a vague bell...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 04:23 AM

Ah, yes - I remember him now!

Leslie Daiken

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Take it Down from the Mast
From: Jim McLean
Date: 30 Nov 12 - 04:40 AM

Dominic recorded it for Topic in 1960 but there no credits. Maybe the assumption he wrote it came from that.


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