The Derry Civil Rights Song – 7″ Single from 1968
Once upon a time this blog was about vinyl records. That was a long time ago, but occasionally I still post the odd… oddity. I came across this the other day while digging in the crates. A topical song by a group called The Moonlighters (presumably a reference to Captain Moonlight, rather than working two jobs) concerning an incident in the north of Ireland on 5th October 1968 which saw a violent attack by British state police on a civil rights march in Derry. If you’re interested in the historical background to the song, check out the CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) page here.
Regarding the song itself, I can’t find much – ‘The Moonlighters’ throws up only one reference on Discogs.com, and that’s to this same release. Billboard magaizne from 7th December 1968 says the following “Gerry Devin’s Monaghan-based Shamrock label released “The Derry Civil Rights Song,” promoted [sic] by the incidents of Oct. 5 when marchers and police clashed on the streets of Derry. It is by a folk group, the Moonlighters. . .”
It would appear they were an ad hoc folk group formed for the specific purpose of releasing this single, which was released at some stage in November 1968, within in two months of the attack on the marchers. According to Discogs.com, Shamrock Records only released four other singles in its lifespan, though the IrishRock.org says of it that it was “active from the 60s onwards. Many colour vinyl releases. Similar to Glenside Records in content.” Of Glenside Records, IrishRock.org says it produced “a high incidence of very old fashioned renditions of folk ballads, with a high kitsch and sentimentality factor, and is probably of little interest to most collectors.”
The B-Side is a jaunty selection of Irish reels (instrumental songs for folk dancing to); The Sally Gardens, The Bag O’ Spuds and The Copperplate.
I couldn’t find an upload (either video or audio) anywhere, so I’ve stuck it up on YouTube and TinyUpload (in MP3 format). So here’s the song and its B-side. The lyrics (as best as I can make out) are posted below.
The Derry Civil Rights Song
(1968, Written by J. Doherty – Performed by The Moonlighters)
It was the fifth day of October and the sun was beaming down
And the people had assembled to march in Derry town
The police were there in hundreds and on mercy they did frown
As they freely used their batons that day in Derry town.
They’d assembled at the station as all free people might
And they peacefully marched up Duke Street as was their civil right
The police had formed a barricade and they told them turn around
Then they batoned men and women on the streets of Derry town
Oh come on ye Ulster policemen for its you that are to blame
Oh come on ye Ulster policemen you should hang your heads in shame
The shame that will go with you though you told the wide world round
How you freely used your batons on teh streets of Derry town.
Take heart you Derry people all the world knows of your plight
And that government in Stormont that denies you civil rights
The day is fast approaching when these men they must stand down
On that day we’ll march triumphant through the streets of Derry town