It’s a Long Way to Tipperary

Although commonly associated with the British Army in World War One, the song ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ had actually been first performed in 1912 by Jack judge. It was to find everlasting fame, however, as a marching song adopted by British troops in World War One.

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 Irish tenor John McCormack, which helped its worldwide popularity.

The popularity of the song among soldiers, despite (or because of) its irreverent and non-military theme, was noted at the time, and was contrasted with the military and patriotic songs favoured by enemy troops. Commentators considered that the song’s appeal revealed characteristically British qualities of being cheerful in the face of hardship. The Times suggested that “‘Tipperary’ may be less dignified, but it, and whatever else our soldiers may choose to sing will be dignified by their bravery, their gay patience, and their long suffering kindness… We would rather have their deeds than all the German songs in the world.”

The song was an obvious choice for postcard makers and was usually split across a number of cards with a verse on each. This card though subtly changes the title to ‘Its a Long, Long Way From Tipperary’:

This card was sent in 1918 so the song was clearly still popular even in the final year of the war:

The full lyrics of the song are:

Up to mighty London
Came an Irishman one day.
As the streets are paved with gold
Sure, everyone was gay,
Singing songs of Piccadilly,
Strand and Leicester Square,
Till Paddy got excited,
Then he shouted to them there:

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.

Paddy wrote a letter
To his Irish Molly-O,
Saying, “Should you not receive it,
Write and let me know!”
“If I make mistakes in spelling,
Molly, dear,” said he,
“Remember, it’s the pen that’s bad,
Don’t lay the blame on me!

Molly wrote a neat reply
To Irish Paddy-O,
Saying “Mike Maloney
Wants to marry me, and so
Leave the Strand and Piccadilly
Or you’ll be to blame,
For love has fairly drove me silly:
Hoping you’re the same!”

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