Origins of the Sash

I see someone kindly supplied the words of the Sash My Father Wore on another thread. Personally, I didnt need that as it’s still ringing in my ears from yesterday! However, did you all know that the song is only about 100 years old (a mere weekend in Irish terms), and is likely based on a 19th century Irish love song?

Although the tune seems to have a certain antiquity the words as now sung were written only within the last 100 years. There are several variants current, one of the more anodyne being this one. The text may be relatively recent but the County Down singer Tommy Sands has traced the melody back through The Hat My Father Wore to an early 19th century love song Irish Molly O .

You can hear both versions on the linked site!

  • Rory

    Great stuff, Miss Fitz. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Hours of fun will follow.

  • Miss Fitz

    Give you something to sing today Rory, and bring pleasant memories of home all about you.

  • slug

    Miss Fitz – I’ve enjoyed your blogging on this. Did you enjoy the day? What constructive suggestions would you make to increase the tourist appeal?

  • Prince Eoghan


    Go on give us the wan aboot yer auld bint Mia Farrow.

  • Nevin

    Orange and Green tap their toes to the same tunes – only the words are different 😉

  • Rory

    Sorry, Eoghan, my musical listening today is dominated by Kinky Freidman and the Texas Jewboys, a c/w band who ptoudly proclaim themselves to be Jewish Red Redneck Cowboys, and I am currently singing along to their great hit “Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goalposts of life”.

  • Prince Eoghan

    LOL ^^^^^^^ love the name, Kinky Freidman and the Texas Jewboys

    I down’t belieeeef it(Victor Meldrew)

    Do I have to sing about “the sash Mia Farrow wore” all by meself.

  • carigeen

    Seamus Ennis had a comment about another unionist tune Lillibolero. (This was the BBC World Service signature tune for many years)

    He maintained that an apparent nonsense word in it ‘ballinala’ was actually ‘Ba/ linn an La/’ (Ours was the day). Interesting as it would imply that early Orangemen were Irish speaking!

    Nobody ever sings the loveliest Orange song ‘The Orange Maid of Sligo’ anymore! It seems to be lost from the unionist tradition.


    On Ben Bulben’s green and lofty height
    The evening sun was a setting bright
    It gave a ray of a golden light
    Around the Bay of Sligo

    A tiny craft with glancing oars
    And spreading sails, the wind before
    It blew the tiny craft ashore
    To this, the Bay of Sligo

    And at the bow there sat a girl
    With lovely cheeks and flaxen curl
    Her tender beauty was like a pearl
    T’was the Orange maid of Sligo

    And glancing o’er the vessel’s side
    She saw upon the water’s glide
    An orange lily’s golden pride
    Upon the Bay of Sligo

    “Make haste, make haste and save that flower
    I prize it more than any other
    No traitor shall have it within his power
    Around the Bay of Sligo”

    An Orange youth then made a vow,
    Brought back that flower and with a bow
    Bestowed it on the lovely brow
    Of the orange maid of Sligo

    She soon became his lovely bride
    And oft they thought at even tide
    Upon that lily’s golden pride
    Around the Bay of Sligo

    Come all true blues and fill your glass
    A better toast will never pass
    We’ll drink unto that lovely lass
    The Orange Maid of Sligo

  • Moochin photoman

    Kinky and little jewford his sidekick are a funny little act, saw them in the Errigle a few months before 9/11 after which he cancelled a return visit unfortunately.
    They also had a song…”They don’t make Jews Like Jesus anymore”
    Kinky Friedamnn also writes murder mystery comedys which aren’t pulitzer standard but are entertaining enough in there own way.

    I’m also reminded of a ditty that was used by both sides ….

    When I was young
    i had no sense
    i bought a flute for 50 pence
    the only tune
    that i could play…..

    delete as applicable this is a cross(aheh) community song for everyone!

    was Feck the Pope and the IRA

    was Feck the Queen and the UDA

  • Prince Eoghan


    When I was young
    i had no sense
    ah rammed ma baws
    against a barbed wire fence
    ah went tae the doaktar, he wis a poof
    he tickled ma baws’n’ah hit the roof
    na na nana na na, na na nana na.


    Good Blog Miss Fitz.

    I remember hearing this a few years ago when Tommy Sands sang a version of the original.


    I have my own version of the tune, which celebrates the right of Protestants to use contraceptives.

    The Sheath my father wore

    Sure it’s old and it is beautiful…….

  • Rory

    Thank you for all the words of The Orange Maid of Sligo, Carigeen. It certainly is the most(if not the only) Orange song I have heard or heard of. It’s almost enough to convert a man to Orangeism just so he might sing it with feeling.

  • Rory

    That should read “most beautiful” (Orange song), of course.


    Good to see another Kinky fan on here. I am also a fan of his noir thrillers. Like Sam Spade only with a cowboy hat and a yarmulke.

  • Rory

    My Aunt Jane, she tuk me in
    And gaed me tae outa her wee tin
    Three wee buns wi’ sugar on the top
    And three black balls outa her wee shop

    was also a girls’ skipping song from my childhood that crossed all boundaries, except into the enclaves of the middle classes of either persuasion naturally.

  • Moochin photoman

    If i can find em i’ll have to dig out the shots of kinky and lil jewford and post em here to my newly created photoblog….

    a work in progress but there are a couple of sashes here and perhaps a subliminal message or two…cant help it when the photo ops present themselves

  • Rory

    Cheers, Moochin,

    I look forward to catching the Kinky shots.


    I always liked Kinkys music, his books, not so much.

  • Donnacha

    My Aunt Jane, she tuk me in
    And gaed me tae outa her wee tin
    Three wee buns wi’ sugar on the top
    And three black balls outa her wee shop

    Rory, I used to play in a folk band and we included that as a verse in the song I’ll Tell ME ma, along with another one that started My aunt Jane she’s awful smart…
    The mandolin/whistle player in the band was from Belfast and informed me that several of the tunes we played had different names north of the border. The one that cracked me up was when he told me that the tune I knew as King of the Fairies was known to him as King William of Orange…

  • Rory


    Yes I remember Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers singing that version.

    We’d better not tell Prince Eoghhan about The King of the Fairies or we’ll start him off again.

  • Rory


    There’s an novel by an Irish writer, Anne Enright, called The Wig My Father Wore, but I like the Sheath. Reminds me of Maggie Thatcher’s close adviser, Sir Keith Joseph, who called for compulsory contraception to restrict teenage pregnancies among “the lower classes”. Private Eye refused to call him anything other than Sir Sheath Joseph thereafter and when he died it was mentioned in all his obituaries. Goes to show – be careful of what we say. Advice I could well do with taking meself.

  • Miss Fitz

    I’ve really enjoyed all the contributions here, thanks to all very much. Loved the Orange Maid of Sligo, especially.

    It’s really good to dig down and challenge our mono-religious view of Irish identity, and although ethnomusicology is not my bag at all, it seems to be a lovely way to look at the past.

    As some of you are becoming aware, there is a commonality with many of the songs and tunes among the bands. I had been struck for a long time listening to Flute bands that some of the tunes were familiar and I could have sworn I heard the air of ‘The Broad Black Brimmer of the IRA’, Sean South and many more. I was amazed to find I was right, and the tunes are similar with legitimate words.

    Sadly, some tunes have been bastardised with inappropriate and offensive words, but I guess thats universal in some ways.(maybe not, dont know)

    For anyone who doesnt know what I mean, an example would be the Hymn tune ‘What a Friend I Have in Jesus’. That can be sung with the words:

    Holy Mary I am dying
    Just a word before I go
    When you see the Pope in Rome
    Stick a poker up his…..
    Holy Mary I am dying

    Or something to that effect.

    I wasnt ignoring you, I am just mindful of what I say. It wasn’t my first 12th outing, so I have comparators. On a purely personal level, my own opinion was that it was a far more relaxed 12th than former years, and I felt the crowds were down a little on last year.

    I personally, felt a lot less threatened, and I think that is due to the tensions being less than in previous times.
    On terms of improvement, some of the things that strike me especially have to be the level of uncontrolled street drinking. While I am no prude, I was conscious of the example it sets to children, and how it really detracts from being a family day out.

    Because all of the shops are closed in Belfast, it also makes the Parade an isolated event in a ghostly setting. If you compare it to Derry, where you can shop and view the parade for ABOD, the atmosphere is totally different. Also, Pride Parade which is massive also has commerce and normal trading going on in the background. So, I think I would be trying to have a normal city backdrop for the parade in the future.

    Tourists, or non involved spectators wont want to watch the whole thing, but if it is there and they can do other things it can be more integrated. I have loads of other ideas, and obviously, i would be looking to de-escalate the sectarian element as quickly as possible.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Miss Fitz.

    It is well known that many folk songs are “bastardised” by Orange bands One that springs to memory is the fields of Athenry, that has the words changed to glorify some unionist death squad. Instead of the beautifull Mary pining for her dashing Micheal, there is something about having “a pistol in my hand” There is even a “F… Bobby Sands” thrown in to the chorus. This song is heard many times at Rangers games. The town I loved so well, and wild colonial boy are others that have been so changed(descecrated)


    “We’d better not tell Prince Eoghhan about The King of the Fairies or we’ll start him off again.

    Posted by Rory on Jul 14, 2006 @ 09:00 AM”

    I never thought that you would let me carry the can all on my own, ya auld sneek that ye are;¬)