“Kevin Barry”, Unknown author (1920s)
After participating in a raid on British soldiers that resulted in three deaths, 18 year old medical student Kevin Barry was one of the first men arrested for Irish Republican Army activity during the Anglo-War. Before his execution by hanging, Barry smuggled an account of his treatment out of Mountjoy Prison, which included accusations of torture. After years of lobbying, Barry’s remains were removed from the grounds of Mountjoy in 2001 and interned in Glasnevin Cemetery.
“Come Out Ye Black and Tans”, Dominic Behan (1950s)
This mocking song attacks the “Black and Tans”, the temporary auxiliary troops composed of First World War veterans sent to Ireland in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising. Dominic and his brother Brendan Behan were important figures in mid-20th century literature and infused their work with pro-Republican sentiment (both served prison time in the 1950s for Republican agitation in Ireland). The main character in this song is Dominic’s father, Stephen Behan, fought with the IRA during the Anglo-Irish War. The song presents the Black and Tans as cowards hiding behind a gun – boasting of exploits on the western front (Flanders) and in various imperial wars in Africa and the Middle East at the turn of the century but too afraid to meet the IRA in a fair fight.
“Take It Down from the Mast”, James Ryan (1923)
A disparaging attack on the Free Staters, this song presents supporters of the Anglo-Irish Treaty as traitors. It also references eight anti-treaty volunteers killed during the Civil War: Rory O’Connor (killed during the battle at the Four Courts in Dublin), Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett, Joe McKelvey, Daniel Enright, Charlie Daly, Sean Larkin, and Timothy O’Sullivan. The author of the song, James Ryan, fought with the anti-treaty forces and played an instrumental role in co-organizing the oppostion Fianna Fail Party with Eamon de Valera in 1927.