Author asks for help on St Pat’s song from 1951

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A Derry civil rights veteran has asked if any ‘Journal’ readers can remember a song composed following a baton charge on a St Patrick’s Day parade in the city 60 years ago.

Fionnbarra O Dochartaigh, a founder member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1968, made the appeal after reading an article in Friday’s edition of the ‘Journal,’ which looked back at the event.

The St Patrick’s Day march in Derry in 1951 ended with a baton charge by the RUC when a number of Anti-Partion League members, including several elected members of Derry Corporation, produced a Tricolour and carried it at the head of the parade. It was illegal to fly the Tricolour in the North at the time.

Mr O Dochartaigh, now an author and historian, said it was one of a number of events in the city at the time involving the National Flag.

He also said that a Tricolour flag was also flown from the office of the ‘Derry Journal,’ which was then in Shipquay Street, and was removed by the RUC with the help of a fire engine.

Tricolours flown

Mr O Dochartaigh also said a Tricolour was flown from Walker’s Pillar, a site revered by unionists in the city, which overlooked the Bogside. The Pillar was later blown up by the IRA.

The civil rights veteran said commemorative plates were hastily produced by republicans in Derry with a painting of the Tricolour flying over the monument and added that one hung in his family’s kitchen for many years.

He asked if any older ‘Journal’ readers can remember a song, composed locally, to the air of ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ to commemorate the St Patrick’s Day march on 1951.

He said the opening lines of the song are;

‘Twas on the 17th of March,

In the year of Fifty-One,

Inside the Walls,

There were some squalls,

That’s where the deeds were done,

Some Irishmen, they bore the flag,

of Orange, White and Green.

Brooke’s R.U.C. dare not agree,

to let the flag be seen.

Other lines of the song include; “They arrested three, there still was free, McCoy and McAteer.”

Mr O Dochartaigh concluded; “It would be really pleasing if any of the older ‘Journal’ readers who might know the words could send in the lines as a Letter to the Editor.”