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 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 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
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.
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.
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.