Wednesday, March 16th, 2016...3:51 pm

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

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Houghton’s Historical Sheet Music Collections have a wealth of music about Ireland; many songs are American, whether adaptations of traditional Irish tunes, or songs from Tin Pan Alley, Broadway musicals or vaudeville. Here are some examples in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.

SHEET MUSIC 337

SHEET MUSIC 337
Paddy’s Day
words by Frank Fogerty, music by James B. Mullen
1905

[chorus]
The minstrell boy to the war has gone, and bold Jack Donoghue
Gramachree, and the Cruiskeen Lawn, and bold Phelan Brady too
And if ever I return again, a welcome home to Bantry Bay,
The harp that once thro’ Tara’s Halls are the tunes we love to hear on Paddy’s Day.

Here is the tune. The lyrics here reference other Irish tunes: Thomas Moore’s The Minstrel Boy, Jack Donoghue, Gramachree, The Cruiskeen Lawn, The Bard of Armagh, Moore’s The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls.


SHEET MUSIC 342

SHEET MUSIC 342
The 17th of March: Irish song and chorus
words by Jack Drislane, music by Fred. H. Shepheard
1904

Lyricist Jack Drislane on the parade:

[First chorus]
Seventeenth of March, watch them coming down the line,
On the seventeenth of March, ev’ry man of them looks fine,
When the line of men are ready and away the music starts,
I dare you to sing “God save the King” on the seventeenth of March.

[Second chorus]
… You wonder why it takes so long when each procession starts,
It’s ’cause ev’ry man must pass his house, on the seventeenth of March.

SHEET MUSIC 336

SHEET MUSIC 336
The moment was sad – Ellen O’Moore – Erin go bragh
Samuel Arnold, composer
[ca. 1806-1807]


Some earlier pieces, like this one published in Philadelphia ca. 1806-1807, featured different sets of lyrics for the same tune. The text between the staves is the lyrics for The Moment Was Sad (an Irish soldier’s farewell); on the second leaf, there are two more verses for this song, as well as six verses for Ellen O’Moore (a song where British soldiers destroy Ellen and her family) and five verses for Erin Go Bragh (song of homesickness sung by an Irish emigrant).

SHEET MUSIC 338

SHEET MUSIC 338
A flower from Irish soil
words and music by Myles McCarthy
1899

This beautiful chromolithographed cover features a portrait of vaudeville actor/singer Myles McCarthy, looking very Irish indeed in a green cloak, rakish hat and plaid waistcoat.

SHEET MUSIC 335

SHEET MUSIC 335
For home and Ireland
words by Alice and E. H., music by Andrew Mack
1903

Sons of Erin, hand in hand
All united take your stand
Raise the cry throughout our land
Ireland’s freedom we demand

“Arrah na pogue” as staged by Mack was a revival (with music) of Dion Boucicault’s play, first staged in Dublin in 1864.

SHEET MUSIC 340

SHEET MUSIC 340
She’s Irish all the time
words by W. A. Archbold, music by Felix McGlennon
1894

[chorus]
She’s a true, sweet, trim, neat, dear little Irish girl
Fair, rare, golden hair, that hangs in a clust’ring curl,
Smile tender, figure slender, and though she has not a dime,
She’s the joy of my life, and will soon be my wife, and she’s Irish all the time.

SHEET MUSIC 343

SHEET MUSIC 343
The shamrock: emblem of Ireland
words by Frank Abbott, music by Louie Maurice
1899

This tune celebrating the shamrock was sung by vaudeville actress Fanny Rice and the Star Quartette; music published in Milwaukee.

SHEET MUSIC 334 (B)

SHEET MUSIC 334(B)
Why not sing wearin’ of the green
words by Howard Johnson, music by Jack Glogau
1905

Blanche Ring, the actress pictured, was the star of “Oh Papa” from which this song came. She is featured on a number of pieces sheet music in this collection. Here is the song referred to, Wearin’ of the Green.

SHEET MUSIC 344

SHEET MUSIC 344
‘Twas only an Irishman’s dream
words by John J. O’Brien and Al Dubin, music by Rennie Cormack
1916

Another popular show tune, with Irish homesickness and New York City in the mix. Here is the tune.

[chorus]
Sure, the shamrocks were growing on Broadway
Ev’ry girl was an Irish colleen
And the town of New York was the county of Cork
All the buildings were painted green
Sure the Hudson looked just like the Shannon
Oh, how good and how real it did seem,
I could hear mother singin’ the alarm clock was ringin’
‘Twas only an Irishman’s dream.

SHEET MUSIC 345

SHEET MUSIC 345
Since Arrah Wanna married Barney Carney
words by Jack Drislane, music by Theodore Morse
1907

The strangest trend in Irish-themed sheet music may be the Irish cross-cultural romance.

[chorus]
Since Arrah Wanna married Barney Carney,
The Indians don’t know just what to say
The wigwams are full of Irish blarney
They celebrate on each St. Patrick’s Day…

In these songs Irish men seem smitten with every other nationality. This song is a follow up to other “Arrah Wanna” songs by Collins and Harlan, and Morse and Drislane. Other similar songs are: Arrah Arabia (1908), Squaw Colleen (1910), My Irish Prairie Queen (1919), My Turkish Opal from Constantinople (1912), My Little Dutch Colleen (1905), and O’Brien Is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian (1916).

American music is much the richer for Irish influence. To read more:
Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin
Ward Irish Sheet Music Archives, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hamm, Charles., and Irwin K. Carson Collection. Yesterdays: Popular Song in America. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 1979.
Lindsay, Susan Gedutis. See You at the Hall: Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2004.

[Thanks to Dana Gee, Project Sheet Music Cataloger, for contributing this post]

4 Comments

  • Stuart Robinson
    March 17th, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Thank you and happy St Patrick’s day

  • Sharon McKinley
    March 17th, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for this fun post. I always enjoy seeing your collections, and you chose some wonderful pieces to share. Great covers! Here’s the Library of Congress’s St. Patrick’s Day music post; nice companion pieces!
    http://blogs.loc.gov/music/2016/03/my-irish-song-of-songs/?loclr=eapab

  • And you finished with my favorite category of song—the melting pot! “Yiddisha Luck and Irisha Love” and “Moysha Machree” and SO many more. Sheet music is such a wonderful gateway to our past. Thank you for sharing some of the Irish titles!

  • This is a wonderful post, with beautiful images. I have “followed traditional music brought to America for many decades now, predominantly from England, Scotland and Ireland and Africa. My sources have been Ewan MacColl, the Lomax brothers, Frances James Child, Frances Gummere, Lowry Charles Wimberly and others. I so enjoyed the music, lyrics and history posted here. I have 78 rpm recordings, beautifully remastered, of John McCormack’s. One is traditional Irish music, and the other, by contrast, is “Classical Arias and German Lieder”. Thank you again!