The Gentle Black and Tan

To commemorate our entry into a decade that will see celebrations of the centenary of the Easter Rising and the establishment of the Irish Republic and First Dáil, I am reproducing a paean to one of history’s forgotten heroes.

Breandán Ó hEithir

Come all you staunch revisionists
And listen to my song,
It’s short and it’s unusual
And it won’t detain you long.
It’s all about a soldier
Who has carried history’s can,
Who dodged Tom Barry and Dan Breen
The gentle Black and Tan.

‘Twas the curse of unemployment
That drove him to our shore.
His jacket black and trousers tan
Like a badge of shame he wore.
“Subdue the rebel Irish
And shoot them when you can!”
“May God forgive me if I do,”
Prayed the gentle Black and Tan.

The burning of Cork city
Was indeed a mighty blaze.
The jewellers’ shops were gutted
Not before the spoils were shared.
Gold and silver ornaments,
Rings and watches for each man,
“But I only struck the matches,”
Said the gentle Black and Tan.

Croke Park and Bloody Sunday
Was our hero’s greatest test.
The spectators on the terraces
Nigh impossible to miss.
With salt tears his eyes were blinded
And down his cheeks they ran,
So he only shot Mick Hogan
The gentle Black and Tan.

So take heed you blinkered Nationalists
Fair warning take from me.
If you want to live in safety
And keep this land at sea.
Take heed of our three heroes
Murphy, Edwards and Yer Man,
Who will sing the fame and clear the name
Of the gentle Black and Tan.


2 thoughts on “The Gentle Black and Tan

  1. […] LAST…..AND LEAST. Loaded , bent and biased – TV3 aims to please the ‘Establishment’ with ‘docudramas’ such as ‘In The Name Of The Republic’. “Between 1917 and 1921 , Irish republicans took on the might of the British Empire. And won.” That comment was delivered on Monday night last , 25th March 2013, as the opening credits were rolling at the start of the final episode of TV3’s ‘In The Name Of The Republic’, which concentrated its ire on the IRA in the Cork area. And aptly so – as far as those connected with that programme are concerned , the fight was for a 26-County Free State and , once that was ‘won’ (at least in so far as there is no British military or political presence overtly exercising power in this failed entity) then any armed actions by republicans after that ‘win’ were unwarranted and ‘terrorist’ in nature. 20 minutes into the programme and there was only an ‘oh-by-the-way…’ -type reference to the damage inflicted on the people and the area by the British Army and their colleagues in the RIC , and even this was practically excused by the voiceover, which informed listeners that “….the IRA murder campaign was having a demoralising effect on the RIC..” and references were made about “…IRA killing sprees..”. The programme made reference to , in my opinion , one unsound source of material in particular , on more than a few occasions and, when it did refer (begrudgingly) to IRA operatives that it did not consider to be taking part in a “murder campaign” it did so by asking “….what those dignified old IRA men would have had to say about the shooting of spies and informers…?” but , pointedly, the programme makers never did get around to asking them that question ! Had there been a third episode , it no doubt would have highlighted the cultural contribution made to Irish society by the British Army and their comrades , the gentle Black and Tans….. […]

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