100 year Anniversary of An Iconic Song(It’s a long way to Tipperary)

The Iconic song It’s a long way to Tipperary is 100 years old today.

When I spent time in Germany and Scandinavian, I would often be asked where in Ireland I came from, and when I replied Tipperary, I would be met face on with a blast of the songs first line. In wonderful drunken tones;

I would smile politely and walk away!

I’ve always wondered about this song, where it came from and why it became

so popular. I was always told it was a war song, and it seems to have been sang by marching soldiers, in particular the 7th Battalion of the Connacht Rangers.

It seems to have been written in England by a man called Jack Judge, who was a fish monger in a place called Oldbury . It was first performed on January 31, 1912, at Stalybridge’s Grand Theatre. 100 years ago today!

So two British towns are having a play-off of types with bands playing the song tonight in Stalybridge and in Oldbury:

I doubt many of us will be will be singing it here in Tipperary, but no matter what you say it has definitely made Tipperary known worldwide.

I doubt any song today could have such an affect.

The Stalybridge people say he wrote it during an extended stint at the theatre after a fellow bet him five shillings he couldn’t write a winning tune in less than a day. It has been questioned that he accepted the bet, but already had the tune written and on a piece of paper in his pocket. Brilliant!

The town of Oldbury insist Jack, born locally in 1872, wrote the tune – originally entitled It’s A Long Way To Connemara at home, then took it on the road. It seems Tipperary stuck, not Connemara and the song became world famous.  It tells the story of an Irishman who goes to London to make his fortune, leaving behind the girl he loves.

It wasn’t that far to Tipperary by today’s standards when the song was written.

From Stalybridge to Tipp as the crow flies it is only 264 miles.


Pat Wright

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