“The Sash My Father Wore (I)”


An Ulster Orangeman, tells his "British brethren" that his forefathers fought that he might wear the sash. "It is old but it is beautiful," was worn in 1690, his father wore it and he wears it July 12. If needed, we will fight again


IRLClancy01 includes only the chorus, used as an introduction to "The Scottish Breakaway." The source for the description is OrangeLark 4, "The Sash My Father Wore" [_The Orange Lark_ (1987)].

Apparently the orange sash was worn by King William at the Battle of the Boyne. July 12 is the Gregorian Calendar (adopted in England in 1752) date for celebrating the victory of William III of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne, July 1, 1690. [I would assign less significance to this than to the various ribbons and sashes worn by the Ribbonmen, the Orange Order, etc. - RBW]

Zimmermann: "It has been noted that 'much of the pugnacity has gone from the music played on the 12th day of July' [S.H. Bell _Erin's Orange Lily_, p. 14]; there is a tendency to replace the most violent ballads by innocuous songs such as 'The Ould Orange Flute' or 'The Sash my Father Wore'. 'The Ould Orange Flute' appeared on nineteenth century broadsides. The other song ['The Sash my Father Wore'] is more recent; it was probably the paraphrase of a non-political song, 'The Hat my Father Wore'. A nationalist version, quite different in character but singable to the same tune, appeared in _The Shan Van Vocht_, August 1896." It is clear that "The Sash" is an adaptation of "The Hat," or vice versa.

Re Zimmermann's note: "Innocuous" depends on point of view. The tune only of "The Sash" is played as a march on Voice16; in that connection Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 16" - 13.9.02: "Once upon a time, folklorists drew out their blue pencils to excise any reference to sex in folksongs, while, at the same time, printing any number of songs concerning rape, murder and wartime pillage. Nowadays things have changed .... Personally, I'm amazed that Reg Hall could include ... 'The Sash My Father Wore,' which has come to symbolize Protestant bigotry in many parts of Ireland."

Searching the web for an "accepted" text I found both versions I and II. - BS

Historical references

  • July 1 or 12, 1690 (Old Style or New Style dates) - Battle of the Boyne. William III defeats the forces of James II to firmly establish his control of Ireland

Cross references


  • Liam Clancy, "The Sash My Father Wore" (on IRLClancy01)


  1. OrangeLark 4, "The Sash My Father Wore" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BI, RecSMFW


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1987 (The Orange Lark)
Found in: Ireland