“It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary”
At the very last they all sang, ‘It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary.’ They all seemed very much pleased with themselves that they could sing it and all smiled when they began. Their singing is beautiful and it did seem strange to see those strange, island people singing the English battle song… — West From Home, letter dated September 4, 1915
It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary was written in October 1912 by Jack Judge and Harry Williams. It was one of the most popular songs sung by troops on their way to the Western Front in 1914.
Jack Judge (1878-1938) was a music hall entertainer in Oldbury, England. One night while performing at a club after work, Judge was bet five shillings that he couldn’t write an original song and perform it the next night. He won the bet with “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary.” While he had never visited Ireland, Judge’s grandparents were from there. With its rollicking tune, the song soon became a favorite.
Harry Williams (he died in 1930) was a musician living in England, and a friend of Jack Judge. Although Judge worked as a performer at night, during the day he sold fish at the local market, and Williams often loaned him money. Williams’ name is on the music because Judge promised him that if he ever wrote a hit song, he would include his friend’s name on it! The original music notations were written by another friend while Judge was singing the song.
Laura Ingalls Wilder heard the song performed while visiting daughter Rose Wilder Lane in San Francisco. It was sung by natives at the Samoan village of the San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exhibition.
1. Up to mighty London came an Irish man one day,
As the streets are paved with gold, sure ev’ryone was gay;
Singing songs of Piccadilly, Strand and Leicester Square,
Till Paddy got excited, then he shouted to them there:–
[chorus] 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!
Good-bye Piccadilly, Farewell, Leicester Square,
It’s a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there!
2. 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.”
3. Molly wrote a neat reply to Irish Paddy O’,
Saying, “Mike Matoney 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!”
[additional wartime verse]
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!
Horray, pour le Francais, farewell Angleterre!
We don’t know the way to tickle Mary,
But we learned how over there!
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“It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” (WFH, letter dated Sept. 4, 1915)