The Irish in California Sheet Music

The "Wearing of the Green," from the play Arrah na Pogue by Dion Boucicault, was printed several times in California. Arrah na Pogue, Gaelic for Exchange of Kisses, opened at Niblo's Garden in New York in 1865, shortly after its introduction in Manchester, England, in 1864. The tune of "Wearing of the Green" has been traced back to 1747 to a Scottish musician named James Oswald. The text was printed in Ireland at the beginning of the century, including the words "they hang men and women for wearing of the green," the sober thought with which Boucicault's song ends. Three editions were published in San Francisco in 1865: by A. Kohler, with the emblem of Ireland (see left) (begins: "One blessing"); by Frisbee & Co., with another version of the emblem (begins: "Oh Paddy dear, and did you hear"); and by M. Gray (begins: "I'm a man forced to ramble"). Gray, together with Frey and Frisbee & Scott (Sacramento), also published music from Arrah na Pogue arranged as jigs for piano ("Barn Door and Wearing of the Green").

Many songs describe the Irish in America:

Others describe the Ireland that was left:

One of the performers to visit San Francisco after singing at Milan's La Scala and London's Covent Garden was soprano Catherine Hayes who sang the part of Adina in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in 1853. To find out more about her life after a birth in Limerick, Ireland, in 1818, see Basil Walsh's Catherine Hayes: The Hibernian Prima Donna (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, Ireland, 2000) (ISBN 0 7165 2662 X).

Fourteen editions of songs by the Irish-born composer Michael W. Balfe (1808-1870) have been digitized for the web site, including selections from his famous "The Bohemian Girl" ("La Zingara" in the Italian version) composed in 1843 for the London stage.

Irishman James Lyman Molloy wrote the well-known song "The Kerry Dance", published and distributed in San Francisco by the dry goods company Keane Brothers as part of their series of songs by Molloy.