The lyrics mention the 1689 Siege of Derry, the 1689 Battle of Newtownbutler near Enniskillen, the 1690 Battle of the Boyne and the 1691 Battle of Aughrim. It is popular amongst Ulster loyalists and many other unionists in Northern Ireland, as well as in parts of Scotland where it can often be heard sung at association football games involving Rangers F.C. There exists a version of this song, recorded by the Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones, known for their strong republican leanings. The lyrics are altered to convey a non-sectarian message. It appears on their debut album The Foggy Dew, in 1965.
The melody has been traced back to the early 19th century. The tune of The Sash was well-known around Europe, and before the lyrics were added, it was a love song that lamented division between people. Instead of "it was old and it was beautiful", the lyrics were "she was young and she was beautiful" and is in Broadside Ballads (1787), titled Irish Molly O. Another known printing of the tune is from 1876 including the words "The Hat My Father Wore". The song is classified in the Roud Folk Song Index as number 4796. It has also been adapted by fans of Stockport County F.C., who call it "The Scarf My Father Wore" or simply "The Anthem".
The tune is used by Liverpool F.C. fans in their song Poor Scouser Tommy.
So sure l'm an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin's isle I came,
To see my British brethren all of honour and of fame,
And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore,
That I might have the right to wear, the sash my father wore!
It is old but it is beautiful, and its colours they are fine
It was worn at 'Londonderry,Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne.
My father wore it as a youth in bygone days of yore,
And on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore.
For those brave men who crossed the Boyne have not fought or died in vain
Our Unity, Religion, Laws, and Freedom to maintain,
If the call should come we'll follow the drum, and cross that river once more
That tomorrow's Ulsterman may wear the sash my father wore!
And when some day, across the sea to Antrim's shore you come,
We'll welcome you in royal style, to the sound of flute and drum
And Ulster's hills shall echo still, from Rathlin to Dromore
As we sing again the loyal strain of the sash my father wore!