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:
- "Little Annie Rooney"
- "Kathleen Mavourneen"
- "Sweet Kathleen Magee"
- "Come Back to Erin" by Claribel
- "Killarney" by
Michael W. Balfe
- "Erin Shall Be Free"
- "Erin Is My Home"
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.