On this day in 1878, 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' composer Ernest Ball was born

On this day in 1878, 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' composer Ernest Ball was born

ON THIS day in 1878, the composer who created one of the most recognisable songs about Ireland was born.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling is the type of song that everybody knows as soon as they hear it, but not everyone knows where it originated-- because it is so popular it's been covered by multiple high-profile musicians.

The Wolfe Tones and Bing Crosby are among those musicians who gave their own spin on the classic love-letter to Ireland, but it is Ernest Ball, an acclaimed composer who was born on 22 July 1878, who first introduced the world to its harmony.

Ball composed the melody and music to the song that would go on to be featured in countless Irish films in the future, with the help of songwriters Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.

Incredibly, despite the song now being widely accepted as being as Irish as can be, Ball was the only one involved in making the song that had any connection to Ireland, as his mother had immigrated from there-- the song itself was written on American soil by American songwriters.


The song was released in 1912-- an interesting time for Irish immigrants as they began to truly settle in their new home after arriving in America to escape the great hunger of the 1850's.

Anti-Irish sentiment was beginning to fade away when the hugely popular song was released, and with it being full of romantic lyrics about the Emerald Isle it must have given those first-generation Irish-Americans a sense of both pride and loss.

The man behind the music, Ernest Ball, was born 142 years ago today, but his legacy lives on-- just listen in to any singalongs in Irish bars across the world and it won't be too long before you hear the familiar notes of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.