Tag Archive | Irish Songs

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling: Is It Really An Irish Song?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! When I go to the nursing homes to do music this time of year the most requested song is When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. I was suprised to learn that it was not a song from the country of Ireland.

When Irish Eyes Are SMiling

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling is a tribute to Ireland. The lyrics were by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr. The duo teamed with Ernest Ball, who wrote the music. The song was written for an Olcott production titled The Isle O’Dreams. The song was first published in 1912.

The Isle O’Dreams premeried at The Grand Opera House in New York on January 27, 1913 and closed on February 22 of that same year. Olcott actually sang the song in the production. At that time he was a famous Broadway Star.

All of these men were American born, although Olcott’s mother was born in Ireland. I’m sure hearing her share stories about her childhood led to him developing a love for the country. He was also the lyricist for My Wild Irish Rose which he wrote in 1899.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling became popular among the American’s. It became an anthem for St. Patrick’s Day. The song has been used in over twenty-five movies and recorded as singles or on albums more than 200 times. It was also the opening for the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. So as you sing the song today, you can tell your friends about the origin of the much loved song.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling Lyrics

Chorus:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing,
When Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.

Verse 1:
There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile, sure a stone you’d beguile,
And there’s never a teardrop should fall,
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song
And your eyes sparkle bright as can be.
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
So now smile a smile for me.
(Chorus)

Verse 2:
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long.
Comes your laughter so tender and light.
For the springtime of life is the best time of all,
With never a pain or regret.
While the springtime is ours, thru all of life’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.
{Chorus}

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Danny Boy, A Song With Many Meanings

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of our favorite Irish Songs.

3 Leaf Clover--Luck of the Irish

The ballad, Danny Boy, is one of the first songs that come to mind when speaking of Irish Songs. The words were written by Frederick Weatherly, a lawyer and lyricist. Weatherly was an Englishman and wrote thousands of songs and had at least fifteen hundred of them published. He was so well known and respected that composers vied to get their hands on his lyrics. He was not only well known for his lyrics, but also for his law career. He did not become a lawyer until he was thirty-nine years of age and often appeared for the defense.

Danny Boy was originally written in 1910 to a different tune then the one we know today. The story goes that his American sister-in-law sent him the tune we know today. Margaret, his sister-in-law, heard the tune from Irish immigrants in the Colorado gold mines. Upon hearing it she immediately thought of Fred and his numerous lyrics. She asked for a copy of the music and sent it on to her brother-in-law. Frederick Weatherly set the words of Danny Boy to the tune known as Londonderry Air in 1913, with just a few minor changes in the lyrics.

The tune we know as Londonderry Air was first published in an 1855 collection titled “Ancient Music of Ireland.” Jane Ross is said to have heard a local fiddler playing the tune and wrote it out. When she sent the melody to George Petrie for the publication of the aforementioned book. The song had no title, but believing it was associated with the Irish County of Derry or Londonderry, was given the title Londonderry Air.

Leaving an Irish Home

The age and origin of the title have been greatly debated. Some critics believe the melody does not sound that old. It was later discovered that the tune was a distorted version of the song Aislean an Oigfear {The Young Man’s Dream} which has been traced back by Denis Hempson to at least mid 17th Century. Other sources say the composition was linked to the 17th Century blind harpist Rory Dall O’Cahan. The tune has had over 100 different song lyrics attached to it. It is sometimes called “Air from County Derry”.

The original version of Danny Boy had four verses, but two more were later added and most recordings have six verses performed. The tune was popularized in vaudeville and soon became a favorite. The first recording was made in 1915 by Ernestine Schumann-Heink. Vocalist Elsie Griffin also made it a popular song. In 1918 one publisher published the song with the title of Eily Dear, stating men should sing it to Eily Dear instead of Danny Boy.

Danny Boy has become the unofficial signature song and anthem of Ireland. Ironically it was written by an Englishman, who is believed to have never set foot in Ireland.

Irish Seaside

There are various meanings, but no one knows for sure the true meaning Weatherly had in writing the song. Some of the most common meanings to the lyrics are:
–a parent sending a son off to war {the 3rd stanza gives credence to this belief}
–A mother/father saying goodbye to a son
–A girl saying goodbye to her sweetheart
–Young men immigrating and leaving their mother behind in their homeland {Eily Dear gives reference to this belief}

Danny Boy

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
‘Tis I’ll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And when you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.
And I shall hear, tho’ soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.
And I shall rest in peace until you come to me.
Oh, Danny Boy, Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so.