We’re Irish And Proud Of It, Too
Tom Mellor, Harry Gifford & Fred Godfrey — London: Bert Feldman,
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Songs celebrating Irish-ness were all the rage in 1914. The chorus of this Fred Godfrey contribution became popular — in England, at least — at the start of the Great War. It is one of a number of songs, by Godfrey and others, that assume the willing and plucky contribution of Irish soldiers to the Imperial war effort. At any rate, it served its role as a Music Hall recruiting song. Typical is the third verse:
First and foremost this was Florrie Forde’s song. Among the places she sang it was in the pantomime Cinderella, at the Pavilion, Glasgow, in early 1915. A local newspaper noted:
It was Ella Retford, however, who introduced the song. The Stage noted that she “[is] scoring a decided hit [at the Palladium, London] with a couple of bright and characteristic numbers, the better being ‘Irish, and proud of it, too, ’ which Miss Retford renders dressed as a colleen, with abundant spirit and attraction.”2 Among the other artistes who sang the song with success were Charles Whittle, “who continues to hold his place in the front rank of public favour with [the song],”3 and Randolph Sutton, who put the song over at the Empress, Brixton, practically in Fred Godfrey’s back garden.4 Another indication of the song’s popularity is the following report:
Murray Johnson (HMV B-455, 1914; HMV-Victor [Canada] 120315, 1914)
Stanley Kirkby (Jumbo A346, 1915)
Stanley Read (The Winner 2781, 1915)
Ella Retford, in “Ella Retford Songs Medley, Part 2” (Regal Zonophone MR-205, 1930); reissued on LP “The Greatest Music Hall Bill Ever Assembled” (Music For Pleasure MFP-1146, ca. early 1960s); reissued on CD “Top Of The Bill” (Pearl PAST CD 9753, 1992)
The London Orch.; dir. by John Firman; with Charles W. Saxby at the Kingsway Hall Organ, in “Shamrockland” (Zonophone 5892, 1931)
The Irish Singers & Players, in “Shamrockland (Selection Of Irish Gems)” (Edison Bell Winner 5376, 1931)
Eddie Molloy, in 7-LP set “Palace Of Varieties — Old Time Music Hall” (BBC CN-1426, 1976 reissue of recordings made 1952–58)
Sung by Violet Bartholomew in pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk, Lewisham Hippodrome (December 1914); by Clara Beck in pantomime Old King Cole, Court Theatre, Liverpool (January-February 1915); by Florrie Forde in pantomime Cinderella, Pavilion, Glasgow (January–February 1915) and in numerous other theatres; by Maisie Gerrard in pantomime Dick Whittington, Lyric, Hammersmith, London (January 1915); by Harry Gordon, Beach Pavilion, Aberdeen (May 1915); by Nancy Langtyre in pantomime Little Miss Muffet, Theatre Royal, Glasgow (December 1914); by Josie Leyton in pantomime Dick Whittington, Richmond Hippodrome (January 1915); by Ruth Lytton in pantomime Sinbad The Sailor, Stratford Theatre, London (December 1914); by Lola Patey in pantomime Goody Two Shoes, Elephant, London (December 1914); by Ella Retford in numerous theatres (1914–15); by Olive Sloan in pantomime Dick Whittington, Royal Princess’s, Glasgow (December 1914); by Randolph Sutton, Empress, Brixton (June 1915). Also interpolated in play Mary From Tipperary (Royal Theatre, Chatham, Kent, July 1915).
1 “City amusements,” Daily Record and Mail [Glasgow], 17 February 1915, p. 3.