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Steve Parkes Lyr Add: The Singing of Tipperary (Steve Parkes) (2) Lyr Add: THE SINGING OF TIPPERARY (Steve Parkes) 16 Oct 13

With next year being the centenary of the First World War, here's a song about the iconic song of the period. I've known Bill Caddick's great song, The Writing of Tipperary, since he wrote it about 40 years ago (can it really be that long?) and I'd always wondered how it came to be so strongly associated with the war when it wasn't a war song, and was written two years before the start of the war. (The original verses are simply a few gentle and less-than-hilarious Irish jokes.)
Hurrah for the internet! After some research earlier this year, I found the answer. No thanks to the Daily Mail, which sent me the standard 'don't call us...' response to my enquiry. Here's the song; the chorus is the original, and the verses -- and verse tune -- are mine own. ABC version of the tune appended, or you can find the dots on my sporadic blog

                        The Singing of Tipperary

Back in 1914 when the Kaiser marched on France
Our soldiers crossed the Channel to put paid to his advance.
As they marched from their troopships at Boulogne to go to war
They sang the songs they'd always sung when marching off before.
They sang 'The Soldiers of The Queen' and 'Good-bye Dolly Gray,'
And all the Boulogne people came to cheer them on their way.
Welshmen, Scotsmen, Englishmen, they sang with might and main;
And from Ireland came the Connaught Rangers singing this refrain:

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!

A Daily Mail reporter, George Curnock was his name,
Was in Boulogne on holiday when all the soldiers came.
Next to him a widow stood, arrayed in mourning black,
Her man had fought in Belgium and he had not come back.
She asked of George, 'What song is this they sing so cheerfully?'
He said, 'It's from the Music Hall, I think it's new to me.'
'Non, non, the words, m'sieur,' she asked, 'what is it that they say?'
'They sing,' said he, 'to Tipperary it's a long, long way.'

'Ah! les pauvres gars! ' she cried, 'how true, how true their song!
A long, long road they go down, they do not know how long.'
The widow's words were printed in the Daily Mail next day,
With the story of the Connaughts, how they sang along their way.
The folks at home soon took it up, the music sales they soared,
And Kitchener's New Army too, they took the song abroad.
In England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, countries far and near;
From Flanders to the Dardanelles, the words rang out so clear:

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Words & new music Copyright Steve Parkes 2013

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