March Away My Brothers

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March Away My Brothers

Irish Soldiers and Their Music in the First World War

Author: Brendan MacQuaile

Publication Date: November 2011

ISBN: 978-1-907535-24-6

Category: History

Type: Paperback

Price: €12.99

‘March away my brothers, softly march away.
Lest our dead will hear us, softly take you away.
Oh, the night is cold for them, brothers once so gay.
Sleeping, dreaming, waiting, till the judgement day.’

‘March away my brothers, softly march away’ is a line from the poem ‘The Watchers on Gallipoli’ by George Chester Duggan, a Dublin man who served with the Royal Irish Regiment in the Dardanelles and whose two brothers were killed in Suvla on 16 August 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign. In our world of instant downloads it is hard to imagine the part songs played in the lives of soldiers in the First World War. Lacking recordings of any kind, they learned songs from sheet music and sang while they marched and waited and at performances in makeshift venues behind the lines in Flanders and Picardy. Everyone associates ‘It’s a Long Long Way to Tipperary’ with the British forces (although it had nothing to do with Ireland): the First World War also produced classic songs like ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ by Ivor Novello, ‘Keep Right On to the End of the Road’ by the great performer Harry Lauder and ‘Roses of Picardy’ by Frederick Weatherly and Haydn Wood, some of which were written to boost the morale not of the soldiers at the front but of their loved ones at home. In each chapter the author focuses on one area of conflict, from the Dardanelles to the Somme, telling the story of Irishmen who left their homes and families behind to seek adventure in a foreign war, from which many of them never returned.

Download Brendan MacQuaile’s recording of ‘Old Gallipoli’s a Wonderful Place’ here

Download Brendan MacQuaile’s recording of ‘The End of the Road’ here

Download Brendan MacQuaile’s recording of ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ here

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