The Sash as you’ve never heard it before ... in Irish

A unionist lecturer in the Irish language has performed a unique version of one of the most famous songs associated with Orange culture.

Dr Ian Malcolm travelled to the River Boyne to record a version of The Sash in Irish
Dr Ian Malcolm travelled to the River Boyne to record a version of The Sash in Irish

Dr Ian Malcolm, once a journalist with the News Letter, chose the Twelfth of July to release his version of ‘The Sash’, performed on the banks of the Boyne River, in Irish.

The Lurgan man, who shared his new video on Monday on his YouTube channel, said: “It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a very, very long time but I never got round to it.

“The reaction has been amazing, I’ve had thousands of views which I never expected.

“I thought it would be nice from a cross-community viewpoint to go and do a version of ‘The Sash’ in Irish.

“As you know with all the talk about an Irish language act there’s a lot of controversy and negative publicity about the language, I thought it would be good to show everybody that ultimately it’s just a language.

“When I was at the News Letter I started learning Irish. It’s taken over my life. I teach pretty much full time now. I work as a media commentator in Irish as well.”

He added: “I write quite a few of my own songs. I always like to do one around the Twelfth of July. A couple of years ago I did an instrumental version of ‘The Sash’. It was a little bit playful as it also included part of the tune of ‘Roddy McCorley’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’, just for the craic.

Dr Ian Malcolm travelled to the River Boyne to record a version of The Sash in Irish

“Last year I realised a song called ‘My Wee Lambeg Drum’, a fun little song about this young lad whose father buys him a Lambeg and he plays it non-stop. He decides that some day he’d like to go over to Rome and play it for the Pope, and when he does the Pope joins him on his own Lambeg.”

When Ian filmed his most recent Twelfth song on the banks of the River Boyne he took the opportunity to retrace King William’s path, crossing the River Boyne from Co Louth into Co Meath on the Obelisk Bridge before unsheathing his weapon of choice for the occasion... a soprano ukulele.

Ian commented: “The Sash has acquired a reputation for being contentious or even a musical exercise in coat-trailing, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, it’s a simple little ballad about a senior gentleman who travels across the water to do a bit of singing and dancing, tell the folk about King William, and then invite them back to Ireland where there’ll be a warm musical welcome.”

He said like many songs of an Orange and Green nature, ‘The Sash’ has been “amended and augmented by additional verses that distort the original”.

Ian commented: “My translation sticks to the original version, so I don’t think anyone will find anything to offend.”