The popular music hall song It’s a Long Way to Tipperary became the world’s most famous marching song within a few months after first being reported in a UK newspaper on 18 August 1914. Daily Mail reporter George Curnock was on holiday in Boulogne when he witnessed the Irish regiment, the Connaught Rangers singing this song as they marched through the town after coming ashore. His story was cabled to all parts of the world and soon the song’s lyrics were being reprinted in newspapers, including those in Australia. In today’s parlance, the song went ‘viral’. As well as being picked up by other units of the British army, it was further popularised by its recording by world famous Irish tenor John McCormack in November 1914.
The song was written by British songwriter and music hall entertainer Jack Judge (1872-1938) allegedly for a 5 shilling bet in Stalybridge near Manchester, north of England on 30 January 1912 and performed the next evening in the local music hall. However it later transpired that the tune and most of the lyrics already existed in manuscript form as “It’s A Long Way to Connemara” written by Judge and his song writing partner Henry James ‘Harry’ Williams (1873-1924).