Flogging Molly: What's Left of the Flag Meaning
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Song Released: 2002
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What's Left of the Flag Lyrics
and his last breath spoke
he had seen all to be seen
a life once full
now an empty vase
wilt the blossoms
on his early grave
walk away me boys
walk away me boys
and by morning we'll be free
wipe that golden...
anonymous May 8th, 2007 5:42am report
In the "Whiskey on Sunday" DVD up to the point he plays the song he is speaking of the last words he spoke to his father before he died and how he regrets only saying what he had time to. The song is a farewell to his father and his irish heritage because now only he can carry on his traditions and he is nothing like his father.
The song seems to be about Irish nationalism and the centuries long struggle against British rule on the island.
The song's Catholic/Irish nationalist perspective can be seen in imagery of "rosary beads" falling on the floor and a "passion play" (depicting the death of Christ). Resentment for the British is shown in the line "and curse the name/ for which we slaved our days."
On another level, the song has a militant, defiant mood about it. The first verse introduces imagery of an early death, and this, combined with the song's revolutionary imagery ("freedom reigns on all") makes it seem that the song is about a group of young fighters in a rebellion, mourning the death of a fallen comrade. In addition, the second and third verses indicate that this loss spurred the group to retaliation ("In its place grew/ an angry festered wound/ full of hatred and remourse" and "but the dead rise again you fools"). Ultimately the speaker calls for the raising of the flag (Irish tricolour) in defiance of British rule.
What is not clear is whether it is referring to a specific incident such as the 1916 Easter Rising, or just the British-rule situation in general. Phrases such as "the shell of a Thompson gun" and "from the east out to the western shore" seem to rule out the Easter Rising since the Tommy Gun had not been invented in 1916 and the rebellion was mainly in Dublin.
anonymous Oct 24th, 2006 10:23am report
This is Dave King coming to grips with the death of his father. Allegorically.
anonymous Feb 12th, 2019 2:38pm report
This song is explained by the latest post.
Sorry for those who made comments recently and who are still in pain. Hope you guys feel better.
Never read a book about the Irish people. Thanks for the info.
anonymous Feb 12th, 2019 2:36pm report
The Irish were ready to sign a cease-fire with the British in the Anglo-Irish wars. The night before the treaty was signed, a small group of pilots decided that it wasn’t enough, so they did essentially a suicide bombing on the center of England, London. This is a farewell letter from the officers telling their comrades to stay, go home, and remember why they fought.
They fought for family, friends, and the future of Ireland. Read a book people. I’m not even Irish, and I know the story.
anonymous Jul 4th, 2017 7:53am report
Ok guys the most important words of the song as an Irish man is the dead rise again you fools keep the Irish fighting.
anonymous Mar 8th, 2015 3:40pm report
The point of the song is that his support of Irish Nationalism grew out of the death of his father.
The point of the Catholic imagery is to clearly state what side of the conflict he sits on.
"What's left of the flag," refers to the British taking Irish identity and Ireland's independence as a state.
"There are many ways to kill a man they say.." refers to the actual shooting conflicts of the IRA, and, more clearly, that in Ireland you're surrounded by IRA. They don't shoot their mouths off about it. They pass down a tradition of anonymous struggle, instead of publicly recruiting. Between wearing masks, the fact that not much evidence is left behind after a shooting, and forming a wall of support that prevents actual investigation, the IRA is able to continue to act on the behalf of Irish Nationalism.
If there's any doubt in your mind that this is the correct interpretation, go to a concert.
anonymous Jun 17th, 2012 6:42pm report
This song is amixture of being for Dave King's father and about living as a free man. As king said at a show in Canada it doesn't matter if your flag is red white and blue or green white and orange or red and white with a maple leaf in the middle the only color a flag needs is the color of freedom
anonymous Feb 15th, 2012 2:54pm report
I agree that he wrote it about his dad
but my own perspective on this song is
the battles that people start in the sense of pride. and the song sort of references that they dont only affect you they affect your daughters and sons mothers and fathers
he says to "walk away and by morning well be free."
sort of like let it go its not worth it over pride
but it also says that their are some things that surpas a simple let go and need to have redemtion
just keep the flag up (traditions community and what not)
to make them proud
anonymous Jun 7th, 2011 6:31pm report
We're all clear that this can be both about the loss of his dad and, at the same time, about the loss of Irish national identity / autonomy, right?
anonymous Mar 25th, 2010 3:44pm report
While the Thompson SMG was not invented until 1919, too late for the Easter Rising, it was available for the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).
anonymous Mar 23rd, 2010 3:22pm report
If you ever go see FM in concert, you'll realize that this was written about his dad. Fantastic song, not so fantastic interpretation.
anonymous Feb 29th, 2008 2:44pm report
I saw them on green 17 and it's about his DAD. Dave drank to him, too, but that's beyond the point.
anonymous Jun 14th, 2007 6:37pm report
The song is about Dave King's father . At the FM shows he says its a song for and about his dad.
anonymous Aug 21st, 2006 8:52pm report
A man in his final hours gives parting advice to his sons and tells them to raise the "flag" and do him proud.
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