Suvarna Garge

The Men Behind the Wire

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Released  December 1971
Recorded  1971
Label  Release Records
Format  7" single
Genre  Protest, republican
A-side  "The Men Behind the Wire"

"The Men Behind The Wire" is a song written and composed by Paddy McGuigan of the Barleycorn folk group in the aftermath of internment.

The song was recorded by the Barleycorn in Belfast (produced by Billy McBurney) and pressed in Dublin by Release Records in December 1971. After its release on 14 December the song shot into the Irish charts, selling far more copies than any other single until then released in Ireland, and remained in the charts for months. It reached #1 position in the Irish charts on 22 January 1972, where it remained for three weeks. After a gap of one week it returned to #1 for two weeks on 15 February. Royalties from the recording were donated to families of the internees.

The song was subsequently recorded by many singers and bands in Ireland and abroad, including the Wolfe Tones, Liam Clancy and the Flying Column. British singer/songwriter Dido in her song "Let's Do the Things We Normally Do" from the album Safe Trip Home used a few lines from this song. This included the lyrics "Armoured cars and tanks and guns, came to take away our sons. But every man must stand behind, the men behind the wire."

The song describes raids by British soldiers, and the "men behind the wire" refers to those held without charge or trial at Long Kesh prison camp, Magilligan prison camp and on board the Maidstone Prison Ship.

McGuigan himself was picked up in a later round of internment, which some saw as the British state's revenge for writing the song.


  • The Barleycorn Live at the Embankment Release DRL 2004 LP (1972)
  • The Clancy Brothers Save the Land (1972)
  • Ray McAreavy on compilation The Men Behind the Wire (R & O Records, 1972)
  • The Wolfe Tones on their first album, Let the People Sing" (1973)
  • Patsy Watchorn on Irish Republican Jail Songs (re-released 2001)
  • The Devil's Advocates on Snipers In Derelict Houses (1999, Triage Records)
  • References

    The Men Behind the Wire Wikipedia

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