Irish music, war and history


This music video from Ireland says about itself:

30 November 2010

Wolfe TonesCome Out Ye Black And Tans

Words by Dominic Behan, music traditional

I was born on a Dublin street where the Royal drums do beat
And the loving English feet they trampled all over us,
And each and every night when me father’d come home tight
He’d invite the neighbours outside with this chorus:

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra.

Come let me hear you tell
How you slammed the great Parnell,
When you fought them well and truly persecuted,
Where are the smears and jeers
That you bravely let us hear
When our heroes of sixteen were executed.

Come tell us how you slew
Those brave Arabs
two by two
Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows,
How you bravely slew each one
With your sixteen pounder gun
And you frightened them poor natives to their marrow.

The day is coming fast
And the time is here at last,
When each yeoman will be cast aside before us,
And if there be a need
Sure my kids wil sing, “Godspeed!”
With a verse or two of Stephen Beehan‘s chorus.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Bloodied at the hands of the Black and Tans

Thursday 26th March 2015

PETER FROST remembers an Irish republican ballad that echoes events that happened 95 years ago this week

OH, come out you black and tans/ Come out and fight us like a man/ Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders/ Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away/ From the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.

I first learnt Dominic Behan’s fine song from the man himself in the pubs of what many locals in the mid-1960s called County Kilburn.

Kilburn in north-west London had a huge and proud Irish community and the traditional music nights were said to be as good as anything you might hear in Dublin, Belfast or Derry.

The song was always a favourite with me and my wife Ann. We both have some Irish blood in our respective families. Much later we would discover that the subject matter had direct relevance to Ann’s own family history.

We would also, later in life, on some of our many visits to Northern Ireland, explore those lovely lanes in Killeshandra. The town was once an important centre of the linen industry. Today its setting in beautiful lake country has made it is a popular centre for fishing, walking, wildlife and eco-tourism.

Dominic Behan’s song, written as a tribute to his father Stephen — and ironically set to the Orange march Rosc Catha na Mumhan, or Battlecry of Munster — brings alive the hatred of the brutal British troops who arrived in Ireland 95 years ago this week.

After the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 the execution of Irish leaders including Patrick Pearse and the dying James Connolly led to huge public outrage. This soon turned to support for the revolutionary Sinn Fein movement.

In the 1918 general election Sinn Fein won 73 out of 105 seats. In January 1919 the First Dail — the Irish parliament — declared an independent Irish Republic.

In the same month, the republican Irish Volunteers, fast becoming known as the Irish republican Army, began the guerilla campaign that would become the Irish War of Independence. The main thrust was to attack the hated Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) posts, police stations and barracks.

By 1919 the British administration, horrified by the low morale in the RIC, closed down and outlawed the Dail.

Westminster clearly needed new initiatives and the British government knew just what to do. In January 1920, the government started advertising in British cities for men willing to “face a rough and dangerous task in Ireland”.

Post-WWI unemployment and austerity meant there was no shortage of recruits, many of them veterans home from the trenches of Flanders.

By November 1921 about 9,500 ex-soldiers had joined. This sudden influx of men presented a real problem. There were not enough proper RIC uniforms to go round. Instead the new recruits were issued with war surplus khaki army trousers and dark green RIC or old blue British police tunics.

This sartorial odd mixture gave rise to their nickname, the Black and Tans. The name came from a famous pack of foxhounds from Limerick who wore similar colours. The title would stick even after the men eventually received proper green RIC uniforms.

The new recruits were given only three months’ hurried basic training, and were rapidly posted to RIC barracks, mostly in Dublin, Munster and Connacht.

The first Black and Tans arrived on March 25 1920 and immediately generated hatred and further resistance.

The government also raised a further unit, the Auxiliary Division of the constabulary. This group was made up of ex-army officers. The Black and Tans acted with the Auxiliaries and both were ordered to break the IRA by any means possible.

One of Ann’s relatives was murdered by members of the Auxiliary around this time. One of republican leader Michael Collins’s group, he was arrested and taken to Dublin Castle for questioning.

Just before nine o’clock in the evening he and a friend were released only to be immediately re-arrested for being on the street after the nine o’clock curfew. It was an old Auxiliary trick.

Dumped in the back of one of the Black and Tans’s notorious Crossley Tenders, they were driven to Phoenix Park and each had a bucket put on their head before they were shot at point-blank range.

The Auxiliary executioners were court-martialed but instead of any punishment their commanding officer offered his congratulations.

Black and Tans were paid 10 shillings a day, a substantial wage in those days — and they also got full board and lodging in special barracks.

With minimal police training, their main role was to strengthen the guarding of RIC posts. They worked as sentries, guards, escorts for government agents and as reinforcement to the regular police.

It took no time for them to gain a reputation for awesome brutality.

Black and Tans had little discipline. Deaths of Black and Tans at the hands of the IRA were often repaid with arbitrary reprisals against the civilian population.

In the summer of 1920, the Black and Tans burned and sacked many small towns and villages throughout Ireland.

One of the worst atrocities was the massacre of 13 civilians at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday November 21 1920.

Black and Tans and Auxiliaries opened fire with armoured-car-mounted machine guns on the crowd.

The Black and Tans justified the attack as revenge for Michael Collins’s assassination of an undercover RIC murder squad earlier that day.

In November 1920, they besieged Tralee, also in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two local RIC men. They shut the businesses in the town and let no food in for a week.

On the night of December 11 1920, they sacked and burned Cork city.

In January 1921, a commission set up by the Labour Party produced a report on the situation in Ireland. It was highly critical of the government’s security policy.

“Forming the Black and Tans,” it said “had liberated forces which it is not at present able to dominate”.

Since December 1920, the British government had sanctioned official reprisals in Ireland. The Black and Tans burnt property of IRA men and any suspected sympathisers.

Altogether 7,000 of them served in Ireland in 1920-22. More than one-third of them died or left the service before they were disbanded, along with the rest of the RIC, in 1922.

Today, nearly a century after the Black and Tans’ war crimes, these British bully boys are still remembered and still hated in Ireland.

“Tan” is still a term of abuse in Ireland. And in a delicious irony there is a medal, awarded by the Irish government to IRA veterans of the War of Independence. It bears a ribbon with two vertical stripes. The colours? What else but black and tan — just a tiny reminder of the colours of the still-hated enemy.

English university militarised, protesting students threatened


This music video from the USA is called Bob DylanMasters of War – with lyrics.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Navy calls in the big guns to stop peaceful uni protests

Thursday 19th March 2014

STUDENTS who staged a spontaneous peace protest at an armed forces recruitment stand at their university were threatened with arrest yesterday.

The students say they were intimidated by military recruiters, university staff and security guards who called the police.

One protester was told: “Go back to Greece.”

The Royal Navy, navy reserves and Royal Air Force were running a recruitment stand at the University of Bradford’s annual spring careers fair.

Protester and biomedical science student Beth Davies said: “This was just a group of students. We saw what was going on and decided something should be done about it.

“The military called security and security threatened to call the police.

“Nobody was arrested because we left before the police arrived.”

The protesters said one foreign student’s identification card was confiscated by security guards, leaving him unable to attend lectures and facing possible exclusion from exams.

First-year integrated sciences student Mohammed Akhtar, 25, said: “I no longer feel safe and I have completely lost my sense of security in the university due to being lied to and intimidated. I feel threatened.”

The protesters said in a statement: “The University of Bradford’s actions against dissent and peaceful student demonstrations raise questions regarding its commitment to promoting social engagement, debate, and democratic participation.

“In a university with an internationally acclaimed peace studies department, which it heavily depends on for recruiting students, this is particularly alarming.”

Bradford University was unable to make an immediate comment.

Scottish nature time lapse video


This video from The National Trust for Scotland about nature in Scotland (including a golden plover in summer plumage) says about itself:

The Trust’s rangers at Kintail and West Affric show off the incredible beauty of this area of the Highland‘s with this series of timelapse clips.

Assistance in video editing was provided by Rob Birdsey, a volunteer with the National Trust for Scotland.

Donate today: TEXT KWAF93 and your gift amount to 70070 (You can give £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 and £10 e.g. ‘KWAF93 £10 to 70070). All donations go towards the Trust’s work at KintailWest Affric and the Falls of Glomach.

The music for several of the Kintail and West Affric videos has been provided by Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd (The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music) located at Plockton High School. The music school is for secondary school aged students, and provides a centre for talented young traditional musicians from across Scotland to develop their skills to the full.  You can help support the school and the young musicians helping to keep Scotland’s rich heritage of traditional music alive: visit www.musicplockton.org/ for more information.

9/11 atrocities and Saudi Arabia


This video says about itself:

David Rovics, The Dying Firefighter

A few days after the attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York, singer songwriter David Rovics came into the studios of WERU Community Radio, in East Orland Maine, where I recorded his performance of this live version, perhaps the first time the song was performed in public, certainly the first time it was recorded. Meanwhile the world watched and waited to see what the United States would do- take the high road toward peace or follow the drumbeat to war.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Saudi Arabia, 9/11 and the “war on terror

6 February 2015

More than 13 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, evidence in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of the victims is a devastating exposure of events and relations long covered up and obscured by the media and political establishment: that Al Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers were financed by the Saudi monarchy, a top US ally with extensive ties to US intelligence agencies.

Affidavits filed with Federal District Judge George P. Daniels substantiate claims that leading figures in the Saudi monarchy, including its longtime ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a nephew of the current Saudi monarch, King Salman, financially supported Al Qaeda.

The documents include a deposition from Zacarias Moussaoui, the only individual convicted of direct participation in the plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and other US targets on September 11, 2001.

Moussaoui testified that while working for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s he prepared a digital database of the group’s financial backers that included Prince Bandar and two other high-ranking Saudi princes: Prince Turki al-Faisal, the longtime head of Saudi intelligence, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family.

He also described working as a courier for bin Laden, bringing messages to members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Salman, then the governor of Riyadh, who today is King Salman after succeeding to the throne last month.

The New York Times published lead articles Wednesday and Thursday highlighting the new allegations of Saudi backing for the 9/11 attacks. These had less the character of an exposé, however, than of a semi-official attempt to contain the impact of the material being released as a consequence of the 9/11 families’ lawsuit.

This is the apparent reason for the articles’ near-exclusive focus on Moussaoui, a witness whose testimony can be more easily dismissed by the political establishment. The legal papers filed with the federal district court included Moussaoui’s deposition, but much more, including allegations of Saudi complicity in 9/11 from such pillars of the Washington establishment as former senator Robert Graham of Florida. He wrote, “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia.”

Graham is in a position to know. He chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 when it produced a lengthy report on the 9/11 attacks. This included a 28-page section on Saudi support to the 9/11 hijackers that was classified and suppressed by the Bush administration, an act of censorship that was endorsed and continued by the Obama administration. Senator Graham, who favors the release of this material, wrote, “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.”

The evidence of Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks is a devastating exposure of the fraudulent nature of the “war on terror,” the axis of US national security policy for more than 13 years.

The Bush administration used the 9/11 attacks as the pretext for wars against Afghanistan, whose government had provided shelter to Osama bin Laden, but had no involvement in 9/11, and against Iraq, which had no connection to either 9/11 or Al Qaeda. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, the country that supplied Al Qaeda’s funds, its principal leader, and 15 of the 19 hijackers, was deemed a key US ally.

Every official investigation into the 9/11 attacks had to whitewash the Saudi connection—or be censored, like the Senate Intelligence Committee report. The issue was not just the reactionary role of the Saudi monarchy in financing and supporting Al Qaeda, but the close ties between US intelligence agencies and the supposedly anti-American terrorist group—connections on which the latest Times articles are completely silent. …

The crimes committed on 9/11 took nearly 3,000 lives. The crimes committed using 9/11 as a justification have taken hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya and a dozen other countries. And 9/11 has served as the all-purpose justification for the wholesale destruction of democratic rights in the United States and other imperialist countries, which have created the framework for police states in the name of preventing “another 9/11.”

… This was signaled last month in Obama’s trip to Riyadh to pay homage to the new king, Salman—one of those named as a financial supporter of Osama bin Laden.

The Saudi connection has been critical to the continuing relations of American imperialism with Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. These forces were first mobilized in the 1980s as part of the campaign by the Carter and Reagan administrations to subvert the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan and foster the disintegration of the USSR. The mujahedddin —including Osama bin Laden—were armed and trained by the CIA and financed by Saudi Arabia. They have more recently been used to overthrow the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi and to undermine the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

ISIS itself is a product of this insidious relationship. It originates in the Sunni fundamentalist backlash to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003—prior to the US invasion, there was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq reemerged as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, one of the strongest Islamist groups fighting against the Assad government in Syria, with the aid and training of the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was only when ISIS fighters crossed back over into Iraq and began attacking the US-backed puppet regime in Baghdad that the group became the target of US bombs and propaganda.

Yet at the center of the entire “war on terror” is a monumental and brazen lie, the claim that 19 hijackers plotted and carried out a major attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., without anyone in the vast US military-intelligence apparatus being aware of what they were preparing. The latest revelations about the Saudi role in 9/11 are another blow against this web of fabrication and cover-up.

The White House may declassify still-secret sections of an official inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks which refer to possible Saudi Arabian support: here.

How the legal punishments handed out in Saudi Arabia compare to those of Isis: here.

US and Saudi Arabia: Dysfunctional partners depend on each other for survival: here.

Chilean dictator Pinochet’s torture victims remembered musically


This video is called Crimes of Pinochet – Chile.

By Luke James in Britain:

Voices of Pinochet torture victims get a hearing

Friday 2nd January 2015

A “TORTURE soundtrack” of songs written and sung by Chileans imprisoned during General Augusto Pinochet’s regime is set to be released after being compiled by a Britain-based academic.

Manchester University announced on New Year’s Eve that an online archive of recordings — some secretly recorded and smuggled out of the fascist dictator’s concentration camps — would go live on January 8.

A choir founded in one of the 1,000 camps will be among the musicians to perform at the launch event at the Chilean Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

The Captive Songs project will also tell the stories behind the morale-boosting songs sung by some of the 40,000 mostly left-wing activists imprisoned by Pinochet.

Dr Luis Cifuentes, who wrote and performed during his detention before going on to study at Manchester University during the 1980s, explained how music helped prisoners cope with the harsh conditions.

“This archive is of great importance because it reflects not only a very rich cultural heritage but also the ways in which the victims used their own cultural identity to overcome horrific moments,” he said.

This music video is El Cigarrito by Victor Jara.

Visitors to the website will be able to listen to recordings of songs such as El Cigarrito by socialist folk musician Victor Jara — the most famous musician killed by the Pinochet regime.

The collection was created by Chilean-born academic Dr Katia Chornik.

And she made an urgent appeal for former prisoners who may have fled Chile during the dictatorship to come forward with new material.

“It’s been over 40 years since the onset of the dictatorship, so the time to collect this valuable material is very limited indeed,” said Ms Chornik.

See also here.

World War I soldiers’ Christmas truce, new evidence


This music video is called Christmas in the Trenches – written and performed by John McCutcheon.

On Christmas Day 1914 all sides in World War I laid down their weapons and made peace by playing a game of soccer.

Here come the lyrics of the song Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon:

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool,
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
‘Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung,
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, “Now listen up, me boys!” each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
“He’s singing bloody well, you know!” my partner says to me
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was “Stille Nacht,” “Tis ‘Silent Night’,” says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.
“There’s someone coming towards us!” the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.

Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man’s land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave ‘em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
“Whose family have I fixed within my sights?”
‘Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they’d kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore.

My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I I’ve learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.

This video from Britain says about itself:

The Christmas Truce on the Western Front of 1914 from the film Oh! What A Lovely War accompanied by the music Stille Nacht – Silent Night.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

First World War Centenary: British general’s letter reveals details of 1914 Christmas Day truce

General Sir Walter Congreve VC observed the opposing sides sharing cigars and playing football

Antonia Molloy

Thursday 04 December 2014

A newly-discovered letter written during the First World War reveals astonishing details about the well-known truce on Christmas Day in 1914 – and one British general’s reluctance to mix with the Germans.

Unearthed by archivists, the letter, written by General Sir Walter Congreve VC, provides a graphic first-hand account of troops from opposing sides sharing cigars and playing football as fierce fighting continued nearby in northern France.

It was donated to Staffordshire’s archive service in the 1970s and came to light during research to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war.

The remarkable document, which was sent to Sir Walter’s wife, reveals how news of the Christmas Day football match spread quickly along the front line.

But Sir Walter, who led the Rifles Brigade and drafted the letter after visiting trenches near Neuve Chapelle, declined to join in.

He wrote: “I found an extraordinary state of affairs – this am a German shouted out that they wanted a day’s truce and would one come out if he did.

“So very cautiously one of our men lifted himself above the parapet and saw a German doing the same.

“Both got out then more and finally all day long in that particular place they have been walking about together all day giving each other cigars and singing songs.”

The senior commander, who survived the war despite losing his left hand in action, said he was reluctant to take part for fear that shots might be fired at such a high-ranking officer.

“I was invited to go and see the Germans myself but refrained as I thought they might not be able to resist a general,” he wrote.

“My informant, one of the men, said he had had a fine day of it & had smoked a cigar with the best shot in the German army, then not more than 18.

“They say he’s killed more of our men than any other 12 together but I know now where he shoots from and I hope we down him tomorrow.

“I hope devoutly they will.”

The letter, which will be put on public display at Stafford’s Records Office tomorrow, goes on to chronicle how some battalions continued to exchange fire, while others played football with their German counterparts.

Commenting on the letter, Cllr Ben Adams, cabinet member responsible for Archives at Staffordshire County Council, said: “The 1914 Christmas Day truce is one of the iconic memories of World War One and to have such a detailed account from a high-ranking officer, written on the actual day is a real gem.

“The fact that the letter has come to light in the year we commemorate the centenary of the Great War makes its existence even more special.

“We are incredibly proud to be the custodian of such a valuable document which we will protect and preserve so it can be shared and enjoyed by generations for years to come.” …

Sir Walter, who was born in Chatham, Kent, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy during the Second Boer War in 1899.

His son, Major William La Touche Congreve, was also honoured with a Victoria Cross after being killed in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

See also here.

“We’re doing this show because it’s important for socialists to push back against First World War celebrations. Our set is going to focus on resistance during the First World War. We’ve got a song about the football match that took place on Christmas Day 1914″: here.