Words by: Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
Music by: Ernest Ball
"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" is a lighthearted song in tribute to Ireland. Its lyrics were written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr., set to music composed by Ernest Ball, for Olcott's production of The Isle O' Dreams, and Olcott sang the song in the show. It was first published in 1912, at a time when songs in tribute to a romanticized Ireland were very numerous and popular both in Britain and the United States. During the First World War the famous tenor John McCormack recorded the song.
The song continued to be a familiar standard for generations. Decades later it was used as the opening song on the radio show Duffy's Tavern. The song has been recorded on over 200 singles and albums and by many famous singers, including Bing Crosby, Connie Francis, and Roger Whittaker. It has been featured in several movies.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan sang it together on St. Patrick's Day in 1985 causing some controversy. Some thought the two leaders were a bit too chummy.
LYRICS: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure 'tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing,
When Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.
There's a tear in your eye and I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile, sure a stone you'd beguile,
And there's never a teardrop should fall,
When your sweet lilting laughter's like some fairy song
And your eyes sparkle bright as can be.
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
So now smile a smile for me.
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet's sweet song, crooning all the day long.
Comes your laughter so tender and light.
For the springtime of life is the best time of all,
With never a pain or regret.
While the springtime is ours, thru all of life's hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.