The Noble Society of Celts, is an hereditary society of persons with Celtic roots and
interests, who are of noble title and gentle birth, and who
have come together in a search for, and celebration of, things Celtic.
"Spring 2011"
St Anne’s
the Anglican ‘Church of Ireland’ Cathedral in Belfast
St Anne’s Cathedral, also known as ‘Belfast Cathedral’, is affiliated with the ‘Church of Ireland’ (Anglican) in Northern Ireland.  It is most unusual in that it serves two separate dioceses … being the Dioceses of Connor and Down & Dromore … yet it is not the seat of either of these dioceses. 

The Diocese of Connor is based on the traditional County Antrim area, including those parts of Belfast city west of the River Lagan, and a small part of County Derry including Portstewart and those parts of Coleraine east of the River Bann.

The Diocese of Down and Dromore (also known as the ‘United Dioceses of Down and Dromore’) is in the north east of Ireland.  It is in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh. The geographical remit of the diocese covers half of Belfast city to the east of the River Lagan and the part of County Armagh east of the River Bann.

St. Anne’s first architect was Belfast-born Sir Thomas Drew.  The foundation stone was laid on the 6th of September 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury (wife of Belfast’s Lord Lieutenant) … the cathedral was consecrated on the 2nd of June 1904.

The Cathedral organ is the largest pipe-organ in Northern Ireland, and was built by Harrison & Harrison in 1907 … and was rebuilt in 1969 and 1975.

In 1924 the west front of the Cathedral was built as a memorial to the Ulster men and women who had fought and died in the First World War (1914 – 1918).  The foundation stone was laid by Governor of Northern Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn (an Irish Lord) on the 2nd of June 1925 … and the completed facade was dedicated in June 1927.

The central crossing, in which the choir sits, was built between 1922 and 1924.

The Baptistery, to plans drawn up by W.H. Lynn, who had assisted the original architect Sir Thomas Drew, was dedicated in 1928.

The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, with its beautiful mosaics depicting Saint Patrick, was dedicated July 5, 1932, the 1500th anniversary of the arrival of St Patrick in Ireland.

Lord Edward Carson, Protestant Irishman and leader of the Unionist cause (anti-Catholic and pro-British) at the time of Ireland’s ‘Home Rule Crisis’, was buried under the south aisle of the Cathedral in 1935.

In 1941 the Cathedral was almost destroyed as a result of a German bombing raid during the Second World War … the raid caused extensive damage to surrounding properties.

In 1955 work began on the construction of the ambulatory, at the east end of the Cathedral.  This work was dedicated in 1959, but it was another ten years before it was possible to begin work on the north and south transepts.  The ‘Troubles’* and monetary inflation led to long delays and major problems with the financing of this work.
‘The Troubles’ was that period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The principal issues at stake in the ‘Troubles’ were the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the discriminatory relationship between the mainly-Protestant (pro-union with Britain) and the mainly-Catholic (pro-Irish Republic) communities in Northern Ireland.  The ‘Troubles’ had both political and military (or paramilitary) dimensions.  Its participants included politicians and political activists on both sides, republican and unionist para-militaries, and the security forces of both Britain and the Republic of Ireland.  The duration of the ‘Trouble’s is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast ‘Good Friday’ Agreement of 1998.  However, violence nonetheless continues on a sporadic basis.

The south transept of the Cathedral, containing the ‘Chapel of Unity’, and with the organ loft above, was dedicated in 1974. 

The north transept, with the large Celtic Cross designed by John MacGeagh on the exterior, and housing the Regimental Chapel of the Royal Irish Rifles, was completed in 1981.
Badge of the Royal Irish Rifles
Since the mid-1970s, the Dean of Belfast has conducted an annual Christmas ‘Sit Out’ … spending the week leading up to Christmas on the steps of the Cathedral, accepting donations large and small, from passers by, which are then distributed amongst many local charities.  The first to do this was Dean Crooks, and he soon became known as the "Black Santa", because of the outfit he wore to keep warm.

This tradition has been continued by his successors … the week before Christmas each year, the Dean and members of the Cathedral Chapter sit outside the Cathedral from 10am until 5pm each day to raise money for charity … and are still collectively known as the 'Black Santa'.  Since the tradition began in 1976 £2.2million has been raised for charity.

In April 2007 a 40-metre stainless steel spire was installed on top of the cathedral. Named the "Spire of Hope", the structure is illuminated at night.  The base section of the spire protrudes through a glass platform in the Cathedral’s roof directly above the choir stalls, allowing visitors to view it from the nave.

St Anne's Cathedral Spire, December 2009
This song was adopted by the 2nd Battalion of the Connaught Rangers Regiment. The Rangers were Irishmen, and the regiment had connections with Tipperary Town.

No doubt the 2nd Battalion taught the song to their comrades who were transported from Ireland to England in 1914 to muster before the Connaught Rangers went to France at the start of 'The Great War' in August 1914.
From the battlefields of France & Belgium, the fame of the song spread far and wide, and it is still known and sung today. It is the main thing for which the town of Tipperary is known worldwide.

Jack Judge achieved his main fame for being the composer of the world famous song ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’, which he wrote in 1912.  He was a music-hall entertainer, and composer of popular songs. He was born in 1872, and died in 1938.

On 30 January 1912, Jack was performing at ‘The Grand’ theatre, Stalybridge, Cheshire, England with his younger brother Ted (Edward) Withey in a Music Hall production. After the evenings performance, he went to a club near the theatre. At the club, he was teased by his companions about a song he had written called ‘How are yer?’. As Jack and his friends left the club not long before 1am on the 31st of January, someone challenged him with a bet that he could not write a new song that day and then perform it on stage during that evening's performance.

The bet was for five shillings, which in those days was the price of a bottle of whisky plus 6 dozen cigarettes. Jack took up the challenge, but had no idea what he was going to write the song about, until on his way back to 20 Portland Place, Stalybridge, during the early hours of the morning after leaving the club, he heard a fragment of a conversation between two men, one of whom said to the other “It's a long way to..........” in the course of giving someone directions.
He seized upon that phrase as a song-title, and then added the word ‘Tipperary’ to it.

He thought about writing the song a little before going to bed, and then 'slept on' the idea.

The next day, he arose, ate a fish breakfast; and then went to a public house (bar) called The New Market Inn, in Corporation Street, Stalybridge. This establishment was at that time kept and managed by a Mr. George Lloyd, and Jack often went there.
That morning, he wrote the song there in a very short time. His friend, Horace Vernon, wrote down the musical notation by listening to Jack singing the song, and his participation in this historic event made him an hour and a half late for his lunch that day. Horace Vernon was the Musical Director of The Grand Theatre, Stalybridge (later called The Hippodrome).

Another friend of Jacks was Harry Williams, who lived next door to his boyhood home. Harry and his brother kept a small country pub in Oldbury, called ‘The Malt Shovel’.

Jack had a daytime stall in the local fish market, and was an entertainer in the evenings. Harry often lent him money when trade was poor, and Jack promised in return that is he ever wrote a best-selling song, he would put Harry's name on it also. From the copy of the original song-sheet shown on the next page, we can see that he kept his promise. Both men made a small fortune from the song's royalties.

Jack won his bet by singing ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’ for the first time, on the stage of The Grand Theatre during the evening's performance on 31 January 1912. It quickly became a favourite of his repertoire, and its catchy tune soon caught the imagination of the public. Mr. Bert Maden of Stalybridge offered to buy the copyright of the song from Jack Judge, but it was actually purchased by Music Publisher Bert Feldman of London. He then popularised the song on the Music-Hall circuit in Britain by having it sung by Irish singer Florrie Forde, who was a very popular music-hall artiste of the time.
The song has three verses and a chorus.

The chorus is the most well-known part of the song.

In the days when this song was written in Britain the word ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’, and had no other inferences!

Piccadilly, The Strand and Leicester Square are streets in the theatre and entertainment district of London Town, with many "pubs" (public houses or bars) and restaurants.
Up to mighty London came an Irishman one day,
As the streets are paved with gold, sure ev'ryone was gay;
Singing songs of Piccadilly, Strand and Leicester Square,
'Til Paddy got excited, then he shouted to them there:-
It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go;
It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know;
Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there.
Paddy wrote a letter to his Irish Molly O',
Saying, "Should you not receive it, write and let me know!
If I make mistakes in spelling, Molly, dear," said he,
"Remember it's the pen that's bad, don't lay the blame on me."
It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go;
It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know;
Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there.
Molly wrote a neat reply to Irish Paddy O',
Saying, "Mike Maloney wants to marry me, and so
Leave the Strand and Piccadilly, or you'll be to blame,
For love has fairly drove me silly, hoping you're the same."
It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go;
It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know;
Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,
It's a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there.

The Connaught Rangers had strong connections to Tipperary Town. Their 2nd Battalion (formerly the 94th Regiment) were quartered in Tipperary Town Barracks from 1908 to 1910. These Barracks were also the Headquarters of the 16th Irish Division.

The 2nd Battalion of The Connaught Rangers were stationed at Poole in Dorsetshire, England in 1912, when Jack 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.

On 13th of August 1914, the professional regular army soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (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 accommodation 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 British 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 Queen Victoria'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 were 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 of August 1914 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.

Even Chinese coolies brought to work behind the battle-lines by the French government 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 First World War, a memorial was erected at the Menin Gate, on the Menin Road, near 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.

During the 1914 – 1918 War Ireland’s population was only a little over 4 millions, yet about 350,000 Irishmen volunteered to fight in the British Army; 50,000 were killed during the war, and a similar number died of their injuries within a few short years of returning home.  Many of them perished around the Ypres battlefields.

The names of 54,000 war dead, who have no known grave, are inscribed on The Menin Gate Memorial … a good number of them are Irishmen (as well as Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, etc).

At the 1927 dedication ceremony of the Menin Gate, the military music played by the army bands was ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’.
it's a Long Way to Tipperary …
Menin Gate Memorial