“Down in the Town of Old Bantry (The Black and Tan Gun)”


An Irish soldier is dying in Bantry "shot by a Black-and-Tan gun" He asks his comrades to bury him "out on the mountain Where I can see where the battle was won" They bury him, return to Dublin "with our victories over and won."

Supplemental text

Down in the Town of Old Bantry (The Black and Tan Gun)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

The Black and Tan Gun

From an anonymous recording (but one clearly made by a non-traditional
source) on a recording called "World Music: Ireland" on Passport Audio.

It was down in the town of old Bantry
Where most of the fighting was done,
It was there that a young Irish soldier
Was shot by a Black and Tan gun.

As he raised himself up on his shoulder,
While the blood from his wounds it ran red,
Then he turned to his comrade beside him,
And to him these words he did say.

"Won't you bury me out on the mountain,
So I can see where the fighting was done.
Won't you bury me out on the mountain,
With my face turned to God's rising sun."

So they buried him out on the mountain,
With his ace turned to God's rising sun.
And they wrote, "Here lies a young soldier
Who was shot by a Black and Tan gun."

And now that we're back in old Dublin
With our victories over and won,
Won't you think of the young Irish soldier
Who was shot by a Black and Tan Gun.


The "Black and Tans" were British reinforcements to regular British soldiers sent to Ireland in 1920. (source: _Michael Collins: A Man Against an Empire_ copyright by and available on the History Net site) For more information see RBW note for "The Bold Black and Tan" - BS

Although details in the song are lacking, its setting in Bantry is quite reasonable; the south of Ireland was noteworthy for the fury of the contest with the English, with Cork being probably the single most active IRA center. Robert Kee, in _Ourselves Alove_, being volume III of _The Green Flag_, devotes pp. 102-103 to the atrocities committed by both side in Bantry.

The sad irony is that, once the Irish fought off the British, and achieved the Free State (see the notes to "The Irish Free State"), they proceeded to have a civil war (see "General Michael Collins"). That by implication dates this song to 1921 or 1922, before it became clear that the "victory" of the Black and Tan war just led to more violence. Of course, many Irish songwriters have tended to write about their successes and ignore the subsequent failures. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1920-1921 - The Black and Tan War


  • Tommy McGrath, "Down in the Town of Old Bantry" (on Voice08)


  1. ST RcBlTaGu (Full)
  2. Roud #12938
  3. BI, RcBlTaGu


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1965 (recording, Tommy McGrath)
Found in: Ireland