Thursday, August 13

It’s a long way to Tipperary

This favourite song of WW1 composed in 1910 was an instant hit in the music halls of the day and enjoyed because of its pleasing marching style rhythm which even included a few bars from “Rule Britannia” sandwiched in as a musical interlude between the 1st and 2nd verses. “Rule Britannia" of course, is of much older grand vintage but retains its popularity today to rousing cheers from audiences at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms.

‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ was extremely popular with troops in WW1 - particularly those on their way to the western front in 1914, but even today it still remains a favourite around the piano. On my mother’s side my grandfather served in both the Boer war and WW1- when no doubt it was heard in and around his encampments.

Both Ireland and England reflect my ancestral roots. On my mother’s side my grandparents arrived on our shores in 1895 as newlyweds, settling in the seaside town of Ballina - famous for its magnificent cedar timber and located in northern NSW. On my father’s side my great, great grandfather was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1816. This information came to me some time ago via the BBC when celebrity actor -producer Jack Thomson (his adopted name) who presented the series ‘Who do you think you are’ included a segment about his own biological family. A friend contacted me to say I must be related as a distant cousin which allowed me to ascertain a good deal more about my ancestral background which I have included briefly in this posting.

My great,great Grandfather on my father’s side arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1836, transported on the “Captain Cook’ – a journey which lasted 170 days. Earlier in Ireland his conviction on the 12th March 1836 for armed robbery -which carried a mandatory death sentence was commuted by the judge seeking clemency to substitute transportation for life to NSW, Australia on the 29th March 1836. Upon arrival, on the recommendation of a Constable, he was granted a ‘ticket of leave’ and conditional pardon. He subsequently wasted no time in establishing himself in Ballina as a cedar cutter, then timber trader and owner of a tavern in 1842. In 1848 he married and eventually fathered 8 children. He died in 1882.

My great grandfather was a farmer, cedar cutter and later became a mail contractor, fathered 15 children and managed to live on to a ripe old age of 82. Most of the descendants on my father’s side were involved or married into families reliant on the timbergetting industries. Not only were the descendants all involved in the Cedar industry but their children also married into timbergetting families and most stayed generally within the one district. On my Grandmother’s side co incidentally they were also all Cedargetters and one rose to prominence with his history recorded in local historical texts. Known as the Cedar King he purchased the biggest tree ever felled, one that yielded 38,000 feet of timber. What a sacrilege, to cut down such majestic forestry giants!! Nevertheless he went on to become mayor and a prominent citizen whose poetry, epitaphs and stories of the Richmond district appeared in many publications. Within that family tree is also recorded a marriage to a scar faced convict whilst another’s on my grandmother’s side was descended from royalty, but disinherited as she married a master mariner, considered to be well below her rank in life.

It’s a long way to Tiperary

Up to mighty London came
An Irish lad one day,
All the streets were paved with gold,
So everyone was gay!
Singing songs of Piccadilly,
Strand, and Leicester Square,
'Til Paddy got excited and
He shouted to them there:

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!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

Paddy wrote a letter
To his Irish Molly O',
Saying, "Should you not receive it,
Write and let me know!
If I make mistakes in "spelling",
Molly dear", said he,
"Remember it's the pen, that's bad,
Don't lay the blame on me".

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!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

Molly wrote a neat reply
To Irish Paddy O',
Saying, "Mike Maloney wants
To marry me, and so
Leave the Strand and Piccadilly,
Or you'll be to blame,
For love has fairly drove me silly,
Hoping you're the same!"

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!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.


Shakespeare's Cousin said...

Lindsay, I enjoyed this post very much. I love history and ancestry, so it was interesting to read about your family.

People often overlook the social and cultural importance of World War I because it was eclipsed by the greater disaster of WWII. However, at the time, it changed the moral fabric of society at least as much as Vietnam later changed America--if not more.

My mom is one of 14 children, and she was born in 1946. That's pretty unusual today, but I suppose it was more common in the last century.

I kind of thought the streets of London were paved with gold, but I haven't been to Ireland yet :-)

It's a long way to Tipperary
But Lindsay should go
To meet his roots and his family
To see how far they had to go

Seraphine said...

everybody has a history. but the sad thing is most people lose their heritage, usually through disinterest and/or the passage of time.
your house must smell nice, with a history of cedar in your past.
i don't remember seeing the words to tipperary before today. but i blame all of my spelling mistakes on my keyboard, so i understand why the song has remained popular.

susan said...

My dad taught me the words to 'It's a long way to Tipperary' and I always found it a song of great melancholy. I don't know if comparisons of tragedy can be made between the First and Second WW's other than to say many more young soldiers died in the First and my parents always believed that England lost the better part of a generation with it. Australia had its Gallipoli while Passchendaele, Flanders, the Somme and Verdun claimed many more. Pictures of those old battlefields always strike horror in me.

Better to be pleased about the wonderful accomplishments of a long family history and traditions of peace. Yes, I'm sure your home smells and feels wonderful.

Cartledge said...

Growing up through that enormous influence of WWII during the 50's we somehow just accepted songs like Tipperary as part of the background culture. I doubt I even ever reflected on the Irish aspect.
Then a a teen in the 60s I recall a favourite joke was about tipping raries - a long way. By then the 'old' music was swamped well and truly, but still conjures fascinating memories.

Shakespeare's Cousin said...

Undoubtedly, WWI was much more significant in terms of the intellectual/cultural/moral fabric of society, at least in the West. In WWII, if you sided against Hitler, you had the assurance you were doing the "moral" or "right" thing. WWI never had that certainty. Most of Europe did lose the better part of a generation with the war followed so rapidly by the Spanish flu.

WWI was definitely a cultural watershed, and it deserves more study and consideration than it gets. There is some great literature out there that was written by people who fought in WWI, and it's worth it for everyone to read some of it.

lindsaylobe said...

HI Liz, Sera, Susan & Cart
Thanks for your interest
Shakepeare’s cousin
How remarkable your mother was one of 14- a post about growing up in such an unusually large family would make for interesting reading! WW1 certainly did change the whole culture, political and geography of the world afterwards more so than probably any war in history and is worthy of much more study.

Sera- There is always an interesting story to our past which often unfortunately is lost - families don’t stop long enough to smell the old roses

Nice memories of your dad teaching you the song, even if tinged with the memory of a melancholic melody. Such enormous loss of life must leave it’s scars as evidenced by the horrific stories, photos and paintings which bear testimony of man’s foolishness to destroy the gift of life and precious land.

Cart – growing up just after WW2 meant our lives were inevitably entwined with the stories and the immediate post war culture that shaped those ensuing early years.

Best wishes

Seraphine said...

you're right lindsay about indexes and measuring investment returns. it's always muddled when one compares their actual return versus an index or a "historical" return.

Seraphine said...

do convicts and royalty even smell the same old roses? i guess they must.

The Crow said...

Hello, Lindsay:

I'm spending my Saturday evening catching up with the blogs I follow. Am enjoying reading your posts I have missed.

Thank you for the encouraging words you've left at my blog - much appreciated.