It Takes An Irish Heart To Sing An Irish Song



It Takes An Irish Heart To Sing An Irish Song (Australian) Winner 2720 Rex 8189
Jumbo A70

Listen to a clip of
Florrie Forde’s
1933 reprise of
her great 1914 hit.


Image source:
National Library of Australia,


Fred Godfrey & Worton David — London: Bert Feldman; Melbourne: Stanley Mullen, 1914.

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One of Fred Godfrey’s biggest hits, and a marvellous tune it is, too, though the lyrics grate on the modern ear with their reference to “darkies shuffling along.” The Stage enthused:

Florrie Forde is now completing the second week of her engagement at Douglas [Isle of Man], and the island can be said to be ringing with her chorus songs. The cosmopolitan crowd at this favourite resort are unanimous in their verdict as to the winning hits, and no matter which way one turns the chorus of...‘It Takes An Irish Heart To Sing An Irish Song’ [and] ‘I’m Off To Kelly’s Isle’ [by Mellor, Gifford & Godfrey]...can be heard. These are the songs which Miss Forde has made her own, and the people in turn have decided that they cannot do better than follow their idol’s lead in this regard. The publishers, Messrs. B. Feldman and Co., are being kept busy supplying the public demand for the...songs..., and it is easy to prophesy that pantomime time will find them in the front rank of musical attractions.1

Feldman’s, the song’s publisher, extolled it in an entry in The Era that claimed it was “one of Florrie Forde’s favourites. It is a song at once appealing in sentiment and effective from a melodic point of view, and it loses none of its conspicuous qualities at Miss Forde’s hands.”2 This was Florrie Forde’s song, then — indeed, it seems to have been hers to perform exclusively except with permission for the first few months of its life, as suggested by the following trade paper note: “By the courtesy of Miss Florrie Forde, Messrs Feldman are enabled to grant a limited number of music hall permissions for her hit, ‘It takes an Irish heart to sing an Irish song’” (The Stage, 12 November 1914, p. 20). Other artistes who sang it included Madge Clifton, Grand, Birmingham (April 1915), where the song was “still a raging success” (The Stage, 29 April 1915, p. 21); Violet Davidson, Beach Pavilion, Aberdeen (May 1914); Ruby Drury in Australian theatres (1915?); Will Hall, Douglas Head, Isle of Man (July 1914); Ethel Ra Leslie (May 1915); Susie Marney in pantomime Goody Two Shoes, Palace, Aberdeen (December 1914); Maude Phillips (April 1915); and Harry Wilson, Walham Green, London (April 1915).

In 1932, Godfrey friend Shaun Glenville reprised the song as the closing number in his act, appearing, for example, at the Empire, Belfast (May 1932). In the late 1930s Irish comedian Jack Daly used it, conversely, as his opening number in Variety performances, including at the Grand Opera House, Belfast (May 1938), Coliseum, London (March 1939), and Empire, Belfast (July 1939). A couple of weeks after war was declared in September 1939, he performed it at the Argyle, Birkenhead, where the local paper noted: “Jack Daly’s suggestion that they should have a sing-song and ‘forget everything else’ was accepted by the large audience here last night, when the theatre reopened after the fortnight’s embargo on amusements [for fear of air raids]. It takes a singer like Jack Daly to make an audience forget its cares and worries, and through his electric powers he soon had the people singing his popular Irish items. His song ‘It takes an Irish heart to sing an Irish song’ was joined in heartily” (Liverpool Daily Post, 19 September 1939, p. 3). Daly reappeared after the war and sang the song again in a top-of-the-bill appearance at the Royal Hippodrome, Belfast (May 1946).



Florrie Forde (Zonophone 1348, 1914)

——— (Rex 8189, 1933)

Stanley Kirkby (Jumbo A70, 1914; Scala 651, 1915)

Stanley Read (The Winner 2720, 1914)

Will Thompson (Clarion 912, 1915) [cylinder]

Terence O’Connor (Starr Gennett 4598, 1920)



1   “Song Notes,” The Stage, 30 July 1914, p. 17.
2   “Messers B. Feldman’s Songs,” The Era, 16 December 1914, p. 20..