Tipperary, Ireland

It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary by John McCormack

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Goodbye Piccadilly
Farewell Leicester Square
It's a long long way to Tipperary
But my heart's right there
Most songs have a history, a story behind the creation of the song, and this ditty has a corker. In Manchester in 1912, the two songwriters created this song for a competition the next day. John Judge's grandparents came from Tipperary in Ireland.

History doesn't record if the song won the competition, but it did become so popular that during World War I, British troops would sing it as they marched to and from battle in France.

Then the well-known Irish tenor John McCormack recorded the song which gave it international recognition. But controversy soon followed when in 1920 an American songwriter, Miss Alice Smyth Burton Jay, sued the publishers claiming that the melody was composed by her in 1908 for a fair held in Alaska. Her song promoted the apple industry in the State of Washington. Miss Jay asked for $100,000, a huge amount in those days.

Town centre of Fethard, County Tipperary, IrelandTown centre of Fethard, County Tipperary, Ireland
The court chose to engage the services of the popular composer Victor Herbert, who wrote such classic shows as Babes in Toyland and Naughty Marietta. The court believed that the British songwriters had never been to the USA, knew nothing about cider in Washington State, and when Victor Herbert said there were enough musical differences between the two tunes to regard them as separate melodies, the case was dismissed.

The song has had a very long life. It was performed in two stage shows, Oh What a Lovely War and Darling Lili. It often features in documentaries on the first World War and has been performed on TV, as in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. German soldiers have sung it to try and confuse the enemy. It's even been recorded by the Red Army Choir.

But where is and what of the place in the song? Well, it's in Ireland, but "it" is both a town and a county. The town of Tipperary is in the county of Tipperary, in the south of Ireland. It's mainly an agricultural region with butter and milk being two of the major exports.

The town has plenty of Irish history and is part of the area where the Irish War of Independence was fought in 1919. The British Army had a large HQ there for some 50 years until Ireland gained independence – at least one part of Ireland.

The town of Tipperary is between Limerick and Waterford, and a more beautiful and interesting area you would be hard pressed to find. The county is steeped in history and nationalistic pride and been called the premier county or, "Where Tipperary leads, Ireland follows."

If you're interested in horses and racing, in particular, Tipperary can be described as the Thoroughbred centre of the equine industry, with Coolmore Stud the largest of its kind in the world.

The towns and villages of county Tipperary are a delight, waiting for you to explore their churches, shops and pubs. Places like Knockgraffon, Dandrum, Ninemilehouse, Upperchurch and Two-Mile Borriss are quaint, unique and olde world with plenty of comfortable and affordable accommodation within the towns and villages or close by.

As a local in Clonmel once asked a stranger, "Is this your first trip to Ireland?" The stranger replied that it was. Back came the local, "Well, it won't be your last."

Cen Fox
April 22, 2010
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Comments: 2

  • Amelia Oliver from Arundel i love the song i wanted to know how old he was when he was died and what date he was born
  • Heather from Canadawhat a beautiful song.. just like Tipperary, Ireland
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