More Songs About Ireland and The Irish, Page 2
This is a continuation of the March, 2002 Feature, if you missed
page one, check the link at the end of this page.
It's Moonlight In Mayo
Music by: Percy Wenrich
Lyrics by: Jack Mahoney
Cover artist: Starmer
County Mayo in Ireland Stretching from Lough Corrib in the south to Killala
Bay in the north, boasts many attractions including stunning mounting
scenery, megalithic tombs, excellent fishing waters, exciting hiking trails
and golf courses - including the championship course at Westport in west
Mayo. Sharing its name with the County the hamlet of Mayo is located between
Claremorris and Castlebar. An historic area, Mayo is populated with castles,
cathedrals, fortresses and archaeological sites. Also in county Mayo is
the Knock Shrine, the scene of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
St. Joseph and St. John on 21 August 1879, witnessed by fifteen local
people. Ever since then it has been a place of devotion and pilgrimage.
Numerous miracles have been recorded at Knock. Rich in natural beauty,
history and Irish heritage, it is no wonder that Moonlight in Mayo would
be worth writing a song about. One mystery though would be how Percy Wenrich
(born Joplin, Mo.) and Jack Mahoney (born Buffalo, New York) would have
known of its charms? Of course, first hand knowledge of any subject is
not necessarily important for a versatile songwriter or lyricist and these
two were giants of the times.
Musically, this is an interesting work. Wenrich used arpeggiated chords
almost completely throughout the song's chorus and though they often add
charm and emphasis in a song, I think that the arpeggios are very much
overdone in this work. Regardless, the verse melody and chorus make for
a delightful listen and I think these two have captured the essence of
the classic Irish ballad from the period.
Percy Wenrich. (b. Jan. 23, 1887, Joplin, MO, d. 1952, NYC). Wenrich
wrote a number of hit songs many of which were of the rag genre see The
Smiler (Scorch format) in our catalog for one of his best. Wenrich,
came from a musical family. His mother taught him to play the organ and
the piano while he was still a child. A little later, he would write melodies
and his father would write the lyrics. Often, his songs were heard at
conventions and political rallies. When he was 21 years old, he enrolled
in the Chicago Music College, and while there had two of his songs published
by a Chicago publisher; Ashy Africa and Just Because I'm
From Missouri" Among his biggest hits were: 1909, Put
On Your Old Gray Bonnet( Scorch format), lyric Stanley Murphy,
1912 Moonlight Bay
(Scorch format), lyric by Edward Madden, 1914 When
You Wore A Tulip, (Scorch format) lyric by Jack Mahoney. In 1914
he scored the Broadway show Crinoline Girl and in 1921 the Broadway
show The Right Girl, 1926 the Broadway show Castles in the
Air and in 1930 scored the Broadway show Who Cares?.
He was married to the famous performer, Dolly Connelly and performed with
her in vaudeville. For more information, see our complete
biography of Wenrich from our "In Search Of" series.
Jack Mahoney was born in Buffalo New York in 1882 and died in
New York City in 1945. Mahoney's greatest lyrics hit was When
You Wore A Tulip, (Scorch format) with Percy Wenrich but as one
of the early 20th century's more popular lyricists, he also wrote a number
of other popular (at that time) works including, Kentucky
Days (MIDI, 1912), A Ring On The Finger Is Worth Two On The
Phone (1911), On A Monkey Honeymoon (1909) and While
Others Are Building Castles In The Air in 1919.
Listen to this Irish
ballad (scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
The Daughter Of Mother Machree
Music by: Ernest R. Ball
Lyrics by: Jeff. T. Nenarb
Cover artist: Unknown
If Chauncey Olcott was the king of Irish ballads, sure'n Ernest R. Ball
was the crown prince. In 1910, Ball co wrote the music to the song Mother
Machree with Olcott with lyrics by Rida Johnson Young. The song was
a huge hit and immediately Ball was established as a premiere writer of
Irish Ballads. In 1915, we see Ball continuing to trade off the popularity
of Mother Machree with this spin-off song. Though no where near
as popular as the original, this song still enjoyed a strong popularity
and was recorded by a number of popular performers of the era. An interesting
note about to this work is the lyricist's name, Jeff Nenarb. Nenarb was
actually Jeff Branen who chose to reverse his name, probably due to contractual
obligations. We have seen this with other songs from the period. Often,
composers and lyricists were under exclusive contract with a publishing
house and could not compose or write for another. By using a false name,
they could get around the limitations. Irving Berlin did it in 1913 with
the song Pullman Porters On Parade under the name of Ren G. May
( an anagram of Germany the capital of which was..Berlin) shown in our
feature on music art
by E. H. Pfeiffer .
Ernest R. Ball (b. July 21, 1878 Cleveland, OH. d. May 3, 1927
Santa Ana, CA)
Ball was precocious in music from the start. He was given music instruction
at the Cleveland Conservatory, and as early as age 13 began giving music
lessons to others. Today he is noted mostly as one of America's best loved
composers of Irish songs and is often called the American Tosti (Francesco
Paolo Tosti, 1846-1916, a prolific and talented Italian song composer
and teacher.) Though he was famed as a composer of Irish tunes, he wrote
many other "mainstream" songs, actually, many more than his
In 1905, Ball was in New York City and working as a relief pianist at
the Union Square Theater and later worked in Tin
Pan Alley at the Whitmark publishing house as a song demonstrator.
Ball remained a loyal employee of Whitmark for the rest of his life in
spite of the fact that his fame would have allowed him to establish his
own house. Ball's
early attempts at composing were self described as "flops."
In 1904 he wrote In The Shadow Of The Pyramids with Cecil Mack.
Introduced by the dynamic and popular May Irwin, that song was also a
flop. In 1905 he was given a few verses written by the then state Senator,
James J. Walker, who later became famous as Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New
York City. He put one of the verses to music, and called it Will You
Love Me In December as You Do In May?. It became a national hit.
This song caused Ball to reassess his approach and in he later recounted
that he realized this song had "come from the heart" where his
earlier songs had been fabricated and structured. Ball said, "Then
and there I determined I would write honestly and sincerely of the things
I knew about and that folks generally knew about and were interested in."
From that beginning and from 1907 to 1910, Ball wrote a number of 'mainstream'
songs that were moderately successful. But in 1910, a collaboration with
Chauncey Olcott, changed his career. In that year, Ball wrote the Irish
classic, Mother Machree. Two years later, in 1912 the lyricist
of Mother Machree, Rida Johnson Young, joined him again to publish
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and his position as a writer of Irish
ballads was cemented forever. He wrote hundreds of songs over his career,
many Irish, many not and it is said his output amounted to over 25 million
copies of sheet music sold. His last song published was appropriately,
Irish, the 1927 hit Rose of Killarney with lyrics by William
Ball also enjoyed a long career in vaudeville as a singer of his own
ballads. During later appearances, he costarred with his wife, Maude Lambert.
In 1927, A few minutes after his act on a Santa Ana, California vaudeville
theater, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died, just 49 years old.
Fittingly, he had just performed a medley of his greatest hits as a recap
of his great musical accomplishments. On hearing of his death, the great
Irish tenor John Mc Cormack said; "Ernie is not dead. He will live
forever in his songs."
Ball was buried at Lake View Cemetery Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Ohio,
Hear and see
this song(SCORCH format)
listen to MIDI version
On My Way To Dublin Bay
Music by: Stanley Murphy
Lyrics by: Murphy
Cover artist: Starmer
As the capital of the Irish State, Dublin is the center of her government
and a cultural center as well. In the 18th & 19th century, Dublin's
bay served as the terminal of commerce and Ireland's main seaport. As
such, Dublin bay was often the last thing seen by an emigrant and the
first thing seen by someone returning home by sea. A beautiful and scenic
area, it is no wonder that songs would be written about it and Dublin.
In this case, we have a song written about a soldier, Michael Shea of
the Dublin Fusiliers, who is on furlough and on his way home to Dublin
marry, Molly, the girl he left behind. Clearly
a song that is also about World War I, it is nonetheless, a song about
Ireland and the beauty she offers to anyone who visits. This view of Dublin
bay is from Ireland's web site and certainly shows why anyone would want
to return. The song is a jaunty, almost military march with a great tune
that captures the spirit of the event. At last, we also have a song written
by a true Irishman and one who can speak authoritatively about Dublin.
Stanley Murphy was born in 1875 in Dublin, Ireland and died in
1919 in New York. Known mostly as a lyricist, Murphy did manage to compose
a number of songs as well that were successful After his family emigrated
to America, Murphy became a US citizen and started a successful career
as a songwriter. His most famous work is Put
On Your Old Grey Bonnet (Scorch format) from 1909 with music
by Percy Wenrich. Among his other hits are; Be My Little Baby Bumble
Bee (1912) , Malinda (1912) and Sugar Moon (1910), also
Listen to and see this
old song (scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
I Knock The "L" Out of Kelly
Music by: Bert Grant
Lyrics by: Sam M. Lewis & Joe Young
Cover artist: Barbelle
Of course the Irish are known for their sense of humor among their many
other talents and no survey of Irish music would be complete without a
novelty song that speaks to that humor. This song originated in a stage
musical show, Step This Way. Little has survived from that musical
except perhaps random copies of this song.
Step This Way opened at the Shubert Theater in New York, May 29, 1916
and at the Astor Theater, on July 10th that same year. It had a rather
short run of only 88 performances. It's production staff and cast were
Broadway powerhouses of the time. Produced by the Brothers Shubert (Lee
and J. J.) with music by E. Ray Goetz and Bert Grant and lyrics (book)
by Edgar Smith and E. Ray Goetz, you would think it would have been more
successful. But, music and Broadway can be fickle and even the best have
their "flops" to deal with. This song is a wonderfully humorous
song both lyrically and musically. The music has dynamics and melodic
turns that add greatly to the story line which together make it a delightfully
Sam M. Lewis (b. 1885, New York, NY, d. 1959, New York, NY )As
with many songwriters, Lewis was a performer first and he sang gigs in
nightclubs in New York before songwriting took over his life. Lewis was
actively writing from 1912 through the 1930's. From 1916 into the 1930's,
his principal collaborator was Joe Young, but he did write with some other
well known composers including Walter Donaldson, Ted Fiorito and Harry
Warren. Sam Lewis and Joe Young were a powerhouse Tin Pan Alley combination.
They collaborated only on lyrics but the list of lasting hits for them
is astounding. Among their many hits are; Rockabye Your Baby With
A Dixie Melody 1918 , music by Jean Schwartz sung by Al Jolson in
Broadway play 'Sinbad'; Dinah, with music by Harry Akst, from
the Broadway show Sinbad starring Al Jolson later, also in Plantation
Revue starring Ethel Waters; Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, music
by Ray Henderson and I'm Sitting on Top of the World,
again with Ray Henderson's music (1926). Sam Lewis is a deserved inductee
into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Joe Young (b. 1889, New York, N. Y., d. 1939, New York, N. Y. )
Joe Young was most active from 1911 through the late 1930's. Joe began his
career working as a singer-songplugger for various music publishers. During
WW1, he entertained the U.S. Troops. Starting in 1916, he and co-lyricist
Sam M. Lewis worked as a team up until 1930. Among his earliest lyrics (without
Don't Blame It All On Broadway; When The Angelus Was Ringing; Yaaka Hula,
Hickey Dula, written with Pete Wendling & Ray Goetz and the great
Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night? an Al
Jolson favorite. In 1930, Young and Lewis collaborated with composer Harry
an early talking motion picture Spring is Here. It was one of
the Young and Lewis team's last projects together. From 1930 on, Young mostly
wrote lyrics by himself and continued writing nearly to his death with his
last known songs published around 1935. Joe Young is a member of the Songwriters'
Hall of Fame.
Hear this great old
melody (scorch format)
listen to MIDI version
Music by: Shamus O'Connor
Lyrics by: John J. Stamford
Cover artist: unknown
Another wonderfully humorous and fun Irish song is Macnamara's Band.
I think many kids from my generation sang this song and like many popular
novelty songs, we added our own lyrics. Not that we needed to because
the original lyrics are both perfectly matched to the music and sufficiently
nonsensical in spots to satisfy anyone's musical funny bone. First introduced
and recorded in England, it did not take long for this song to jump across
the pond and become an American favorite. Often recorded, often by major
stars such as Crosby, it has remained a staple of the Irish song genre
Bing Crosby recorded this song in 1945, Backed by the Jesters and the
Bob Haggart Orchestra, the recording sold more than a million copies and
spent 10 weeks in the pop charts, reaching as high as No. 10. Our copy,
though published in London states it is an "American Version"
with lyrics by Red Latham, Wamp Carlson and Guy Bonham. Other performers
have recorded it, including the musically murderous Spike Jones. A colossal
hit, it appears to be the only song from the pen of both O'Connor and
Stamford. I've been unable to find any information about either of them
and all references point to just this one song.
There are four verses to the song and each one is a bit funnier than
the last. For those of you who cannot access the scorch version, pull
up the lyrics from the link below and sing along with the midi (also below.)
Hear this rousing Irish
Listen to MIDI version
The Cork Out Of Erin
Music by: Fred Fisher
Lyrics by: Addison Burkhardt
Cover artist: Photo by Hartsook
In 1916, the Easter uprising signaled the beginning of a revolution for
Ireland's independence. In the General Election of December, 1918, the
Irish electorate declared by an overwhelming majority its firm allegiance
to the Irish Republic.
On January 21, 1919 the First Parliament of the Republic of Ireland issued
a declaration of independence from England and asked for the removal of
all British troops.
'We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland
to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate,
and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrison:
'We claim for our national independence the recognition
and support of every free nation in the world, and we proclaim that
independence to be a condition precedent to international peace hereafter:
Of course there's much more more to the story.
This song was written in 1917 in anticipation of Ireland's independence
and was no doubt very politically controversial at the time. In 1923 the
first government of the Irish Free State was led by William T. Cosgrave
of Cumann Na nGael. Their chief aim was to establish infrastructure and
administration of the new state. Regardless of your political feelings
on the subject, song has a nice melody and the lyrics are truly upbeat.
The lady on the cover is the famed vaudevillian singer and comedienne,
Nora Bayes. For information on Bayes, see the NYU
history about her.
Fred Fischer (1875- 1942) was born in Cologne,
Germany of American parents. Fisher ran away from home at age 13 and enlisted
in the German Navy and later, the French Foreign Legion before coming
to the US in 1900. He began composing in 1904 and also wrote the words
to many of this songs. His first hit was If The Man In The Moon Were
A Coon (1905). In 1907, he started his own publishing company with
the lyricist of the song Norway
, Joe Mc Carthy as a partner for a short time. In the 20's Fisher moved
to Hollywood and wrote music for silent movies and early sound musicals.
Though early in his career he made his name through ethnic
songs, later he made something out of geographic topics such as Norway,
Siam (1915)and Chicago (1922). Fisher's music endured well
into the forties and one of his songs, Peg
O'My Heart (midi, 1913) has become a continuing classic. Fischer
wrote it after seeing Laurette Taylor in the Broadway play of the same
name and he dedicated it to Taylor. Though a very successful song when
published, it was even more successful when it was recorded in 1947 by
the Harmonicats and also by Peggy Lee. Sometime around the First World
War, Fischer dropped the "c" from his name and used "Fisher"
from then on to avoid the stigma of a Germanic name. Known as a contentious,
eccentric and excitable person, one of his songs was involved in copyright
litigation that continued from 1919 to the 1960's, more than 20 years
after his death in NY in 1942. His music is best known for his musical
comedic gifts and his ability to make quirky rhythms to highlight creative
this rare song (scorch)
Listen to MIDI version
Love To Hear A Good Old Irish Song
Music by: Walter Scanlon
Lyrics by: George A. Kershaw
Cover artist: unknown
Our final work for this month summarizes perhaps what many of us feel
when it comes to hearing an Irish song. In the world of music, there are
few ethnic songs that can be as beautiful, emotional and as uplifting
as the songs about Ireland and the Irish. Irish songs seem to be some
of the most loved songs in America and as such have had a major influence
on American composers and lyricists. As you read through this month's
feature, you may have noticed that few of the composers and lyricists
were of Irish extraction and fewer still, in fact only two, Stanley Murphy
and Shamus O'Connor, were actually born in Ireland. It is somewhat odd
that one of the most revered composers of Irish songs was born in Cleveland,
Ohio! Perhaps that is a testament to the attraction of Irish styled songs
and their popularity in America, no matter what their source or veracity.
All I know is that most of us love to hear a good old Irish song, and
we'll all be celebrating the National Day of Ireland is St. Patrick's
Day, celebrated by Irish communities all over the world on 17th March.
Sadly, though Scanlon and Kershaw's sentiments agree with me and probably
many of you as well, next to nothing can be found about them or their
careers in any of the references available to us. Perhaps someone can
come forward and fill in the blanks for us. In the meanwhile, thanks for
visiting us and reading this month's issue.
Listen to this Irish
song(scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
That completes another of our features. As always, be sure to come back next
month for a new feature or just come back anytime to browse our extensive archive
of issues and special articles.
See our resources page
for a complete bibliography of all resources used to research this and other
articles in our series.
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