With the centenary of the First World War coming up next year, I've written a song about how Tipperary came to be so iconic of the time, even though it was written two years before the start of the War; and inspired in no small way by Bill Caddick's wonderful The writing of Tipperary. After much research, I present a new song to drive troubles away:—
The Singing of Tipperary
in 1914 when the Kaiser marched on France
soldiers crossed the Channel to put paid to his advance.
they marched from their troopships at Boulogne to go to war
sang the songs they’d always sung when marching off before.
sang ‘The Soldiers of The Queen’ and ‘Good-bye Dolly Gray,’
all the Boulogne people came to
cheer them on their way.
Welsh and Scotsmen, they sang with might and main;
from Ireland came the Connaught
Rangers singing this refrain:
It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way
It’s a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest
girl I know.
Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square;
It’s a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart’s
Daily Mail reporter, George Curnock was his name,
in Boulogne on holiday when
all the soldiers came.
to him a widow stood, arrayed in mourning black,—
man had fought in Belgium and he had not come
asked of George, ‘What song is this they sing so cheerfully?’
said, ‘It’s from the Music Hall, I think – it’s new to me.’
the words, m’sieur,’ she asked, ‘what
is it that they say?’
sing,’ said he, ‘to Tipperary it’s a long, long
‘Ah! les pauvres gars! ’ she cried, ‘how
true, how true their song!
long, long road they go down, they do not know how long.’
widow’s words were printed in the Daily Mail next day,
the story of the Connaughts, how they sang along their way.
folks at home soon took it up, the music sales they soared,
Kitchener’s New Army too,
they took the song abroad.
England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, countries far and
Flanders to the Dardanelles, the words rang
out so clear:
A young woman of my acquaintance, who wishes to avoid the unflattering glare of publicity, has asked me to pass on the following information. She has been charged with the disposal of her great-aunt's effect following that lady's decease. Among the odds and ends in her attic was a locked tin box; the key has only recently turned up, and the contents of the box disclosed ... or have they? At some time in its history the box has suffered from inundation, possibly in sea-water, and the contents, mostly papers, have become damp. Many pieces have become stuck to one another, and such individual items as have been separated have been found to be either illegible, where they bear handwriting, or to have surface damage rendering the print incomplete.
However, with the advice of a professional conservator, the young woman hopes -- indeed, is confident -- that much of the papers will yield their secrets in the fullness of time. The above photograph is an encouraging example. She believes it is probably the likeness of her 19th century ancestress, Mrs Hilda Norris, who, according to family legend, enjoyed a brief celebrity among the 'Freshwater Circle' at Dimbola Lodge on the Isle of Wight. I shall be allowed to publish selected items as they become available. Watch this space!