'It's a Long Way to Tipperary' Still Has Marching Legs 100 Years On


It's a long way to Tipperary,

It's a long way to go.

It's a long way to Tipperary

To the sweetest girl I know!

Goodbye, Piccadilly,

Farewell, Leicester Square!

It's a long long way to Tipperary,

But my heart's right there.


"It's a Long Way to Tipperary" written by Jack Judge and co-credited to, but not co-written by, Henry James "Harry" Williams. It was allegedly written for a 5 shilling bet in Stalybridge on 30 January 1912 and performed the next night at the local music hall. Judge's parents were Irish, and his grandparents came from Tipperary. It became popular among soldiers in the First World War and is remembered as a song of that war.

During the First World War, Daily Mail correspondent George Curnock saw the Irish regiment the Connaught Rangers singing this song as they marched through Boulogne on 13 August 1914 and reported it on 18 August 1914. The song was quickly picked up by other units of the British Army. In November 1914 it was recorded by the well-known tenor John McCormack, which helped its worldwide popularity.

An alternative concluding chorus, bawdy by contemporaneous standards:

That's the wrong way to tickle Mary,

That's the wrong way to kiss.

Don't you know that over here, lad

They like it best like this.

Hooray pour Les Français

Farewell Angleterre.

We didn't know how to tickle Mary,

But we learnt how over there.


From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Way_to_Tipperary

Views: 1731

Tags: Music, Tipperary

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on October 9, 2013 at 10:05am

Interestingly enough, the tune for this old song is used as The University of Missouri's fight song.  They used different words, of course, and have titled it "Every True Son."  Here's the band playing it before one of their football games:

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Comment by Nollaig 2016 on October 9, 2013 at 10:13am

In Dublin they would add 'Without your Aul Wan' to the chorus.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on October 9, 2013 at 10:43am

 A British army recruiting song and not always popular in Ireland for this reason. It has little or nothing to do with Ireland.If I am not mistaken Tipperary was a brothel in London. Judge himself was second or third generation Irish but that is where the Irish connection  ends.

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Comment by Nollaig 2016 on October 9, 2013 at 11:38am

I don’t think Judge wrote the song as a recruiting song, but it did become one and yes there was a brothel called Tipperary.   However the song has been adopted by many and put Tipperary ‘on the map’.

Another version in the movie ‘Das Boot’.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-sgfSTINck

On ‘Charlie Brown’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq_5ld7zRao

Comment by Gerry Regan on October 9, 2013 at 1:44pm

I imagine it was a favorite of the Black and Tans, as well. Linda, thanks for this spotlight on an intriguing aspect of the Irish experience!

Comment by Michael Quane on October 9, 2013 at 7:19pm

It was the 1950's. The Grimes Travel Agency in New York, publishers of  the Irish Echo, would run charters to Ireland on KLM called "The Flight of the Gaels." Though a Dutch airline, KLM's pilots were called "the Flying Irishmen" in radio ads. My mother was going home solo to see her dying father.  Pre-TSA screening days, families would see off their relatives by going on the bus to the plane (pre-boardiing ramps too). There was a pipe band playing as the buses moved out. When the band started up "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," my da, an IRA-veteran of the War of Independence, was indignant. Though Tipperary-born, he growled, "That's a Tommy song!"

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Comment by Nollaig 2016 on October 9, 2013 at 7:22pm

Your Da was right Michel.  It was adopted by the Tommies.  Many others too over the years.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on October 10, 2013 at 1:47am

The Connacht Rangers sang it on their way to fight and die for the glory of the British Empire but otherwise I would say its a misconception that the song was ever popular in Ireland.Though popular all over the world it is really a British song.

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Comment by Nollaig 2016 on October 10, 2013 at 3:27am
Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on October 10, 2013 at 3:41am

Also worthy of note is the fact that some of the signs welcoming motorists into County Tipperary read, "You've come a long way."  So at least in some measure, Tipperary officially embraces the phenomenon caused by this song.  I don't think one has to embrace everyone who has ever used a song for any reason to enjoy it on some level.  


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