The Fame of Tipperary Group present...

Its a long way to Tipperary ! Part III

The Connaught Rangers regiment of The British Army has strong connections to Tipperary Town. Their 2nd. Battalion (formerly the 94th. Infantry Regiment) were quartered in Tipperary Town Barracks from 1908 to 1910, and from 1914 to 1918 The Barracks were the Headquarters of the 16th. Irish Division. The 7th. Battalion of The Connaught Rangers were stationed at Poole in Dorsetshire, England in 1912, when Jack Judge wrote his famous song. It was taken up as a favourite during evening entertainments in their mess in England, by soldiers who had been stationed in Tipperary Barracks and who remembered that town fondly. Indeed, many of them may have sung the words "My heart's right there!" with fond memories of Irish sweethearts from Tipperary.

For more details of the Connaught Rangers, go to the "REGIMENTS & CORPS" section of this Fame of Tipperary website via the Main Index Page or the Site Map using the green link buttons on this page.

The first British troops to land on French soil were a detachment of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who arrived in the French port of Boulogne on 10 August 1914. They were followed during the week of 10th. August by (amongst others) The Middlesex Regiment, The Worcestershire Regiment, The Royal Scots Guards, The Gordon Highlanders, The Highland Light Infantry, The Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, The Royal Dublin Fusiliers and The Connaught Rangers. These formed part of The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) After landing at the docks around Le Bassin Loubet in the port of Boulogne, the troops were quartered in depots in the dockland area while equipment was unloaded, checked and stored. In addition to stores, equipment and ammunition, vehicles and horses were also shipped from English ports to France.

On 13th. August 1914, the men of the B.E.F (also known as "The Old Contemptibles" - "Old" because of their longstanding service overseas, and "Contemptible" because of the German Kaiser's reference to them and the French forces as "A contemptible little army") marched in regimental array through the streets of Boulogne, en route to new accomodation in camps in the hills around the town, to make way in the dockland area for a new wave of troops arriving from England. The day was sunny and bright, and journalist George C. Curnock stood on the steps of the Hotel Metropole, Boulogne, together with citizens of the town, to watch the British troops march past. George Curnock of "The Daily Mail" Newspaper, was to become one of the leading War Correspondents of the 1914-1918 War.

The various regiments all had their favourite marching songs, some of which dated from The Boer War in South Africa, (such as "The Soldiers of the Queen" from QueenVictoria's reign),and some of which were more contemporary music halls songs (such as "Goodbye, Dolly, I must leave you."). The Connaught Rangers sang a song which George Curnock had never heard before,and in addition to its rousing tune and the pathos of its words, undoubtedly what fixed the song in his memory was the words of a French widow who had stood silent beside him from the beginning of the parade. She wore mourning black in memory of her husband, who had gone to Belgium with the local 8th. Boulonnais Regiment and been killed in the heavy fighting there, leaving their three children fatherless.

As the 2nd. Battalion of The Connaught Rangers marched past The Metropole Hotel singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", the widow turned to George Curnock and asked him what they were singing. He explained that it was a "popular air" of the English Music-Halls. She asked him to translate the words for her, and the plaintive words "It's a long way to go" caused her to reply emotionally, "Ah! Les pauvres gars'. Une route tres, tres longue - ils ne savent point le vrai longuer de la route le long de quoi ils passeront - si longue, si longue!"

"Oh! The poor boys! ...'A long, long way' ... they do not know how long is the way they are going .... how long - how long!". No doubt the poignancy of the words caused her to think of her late husband's recent journey to the out-of-reach realms of death, and the fact that many of these brave young men would undoubtedly soon join him there, far away and out of reach of their loved ones.

In his despatch to the Editor of The Daily Mail, George Curnock mentioned by name only the song sung by "The Connaughts". A security black-out prevented any news of the British troop arrivals in France being mentioned until after the main force had landed and dispersed from Boulogne. From the article printed by The Daily Mail on 18th. August 1918 from George Curnock's notes and from its popularity with the Allied troops on the battlefields of France and Belgium, the fame of the song "It's a long way to Tipperary" spread throughout the world. Chinese workers from France brought to work behind the battle-lines sang it, as did German troops. After the Great War had ended, the song was taken home by Canadian, Australian, Indian, and New Zealand troops. Canadians even had a version of their own with their own words. After the war, a memorial was erected at The Menin Gate on the Menin Road near The Messines Ridge - site of fierce fighting during the First Battle of Ypres in 1914, the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. The names of 54,000 war dead are inscribed on The Menin Gate Memorial, a large stone arch, at the Dedication Ceremony of which in 1927 the tune "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" was played.

Jack Judge died on 28th. July 1938, aged 60, in a nursing home in West Bromwich, England. He was buried in Rood End Cemetery, Oldbury, Lancashire. In 1953 a memorial tablet in his memory was affixed to the wall of the former New Market Inn, Stalybridge by impressario Jack Hylton, which reads "Remembering with Pride - Jack Judge, who in this street and building was inspired to write and compose the immortal marching song 'It's a long way to Tipperary'. He also was the first to sing it in public in The Grand Theatre, opposite, January 31st., 1912.". The Grand Theatre in Stalybridge was later renamed The Hippodrome, and later on still a cafe named The Tipperary Tea Room was opened on its former site (which was still there in 1990).

In 1935, Jubilee Year in England, a film named "Royal Cavalcade" was made about the song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" in which the part of Jack was played by his half-brother Mr. Edward Withey.

The world-famous song written by Jack Judge in 1912 and taken up by British troops as the definitive anthem on the World War One battlefields of France and Belgium became the Twentieth Century'claim-to-fame' of the Irish county town of Tipperary. This has now been designated a Nineteenth Century Heritage Town, and is unique in that it's streetscapes, especially around Main Street, have remained almost unchanged for over 150 years. This market town in County Tipperary's verdant Golden Vale has many small friendly bars, an indication of its former status as a barracks town; and some parts of the Tipperary Town Barracks and associated buildings still remain. Until the late 1990's, the town's Limerick Junction Railway Station, situated at the location where the two main rail lines of the Republic of Ireland join each other (and therefore where passengers to and from Dublin change en route for Limerick City, hence the name of the station) remained exactly as it had been for over 100 years, with mechanical line signals, a long platform of stone slabs, a large water-tank for replenishing the boilers of steam engines, and antique luggage trolleys. Sadly, this station has now been 'improved' by modern alterations, but the centre of the town still at present retains its nineteenth century charm, especially in the areas of Main Street, St. Michael Street and "New Tipperary" (built in the mid-1880's). The composite image below was created by merging a black & white photograph taken in the Nineteenth Century with a modern colour one taken in the late Twentieth Century. Both photographs were taken from a point at the bottom of Bridge Street, by the River Ara outside The Royal Hotel, looking up the hill towards Main Street.

The ice-eroded granite range of The Galtee Mountains with Galtymore at 3018 feet are the highest inland mountains in Ireland, and overlook Tipperary across the scenic Glen of Aherlow and the wooded ridge of Sleivenamuck. Tipperary Town is well worth a visit, with a sports complex in town, unique streetscapes, shopfronts with moulded concrete and carved stone decorative motifs, and is a good base from which to explore the surrounding area with its facilities nearby for golf, horse-riding, mountain walks and places of scenic beauty and archaeological interest. Just outside the town, the Tipperary (Barrenstown) Racecourse has recently undergone refurbishment and holds regular horse-race meetings. There are excellent Bed & Breakfast establishments and country hotels in and around the town. For more details, contact The Tourist Office, The Excel Centre, Tipperary Town, County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland. Telephone that office from overseas using your country's International Code + 353-62-51457, or from Ireland just dial 062-51457

Bridge Street, Tipperary Town, unchanged from 1800 to the present day.

Come and visit, you'll find that in these days of modern transport .....

'It's (not such) a long way to Tipperary! ©'

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