When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
"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.
- 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,
- So there's never a teardrop should fall,
- When your sweet lilting laughter's like some fairy song
- And your eyes twinkle bright as can be.
- You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
- And 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 sweetest of all,
- There is ne'er a real care or regret.
- And while springtime is ours, throughout all of youth's hours,
- Let us smile each chance we get.
The song in the news
The song gained momentary notoriety in Canada after the so-called Shamrock Summit between Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan held on St. Patrick's Day, 1985. At the end of the evening, the two leaders jointly performed "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", for which Mulroney was extensively criticized in the Canadian press.
"When Irish Eyes are Smiling" has been used in the following movies and short subjects:
- "Return to Me," 2000
- "It's A Great Day For The Irish," 1999
- "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (Ireland, April 1916)" 1993
- "Husbands," 1970
- "Ducking the Devil," 1957
- "Canary Row," 1950
- "Top o' the Morning," 1949
- "The Time of Your Life," 1948
- "Wild Irish Rose," 1947
- "Trap Happy Porky", 1945 
- "Irish Eyes Are Smiling," 1944 (This is an actual movie about Ernest R. Ball)
- "My Favorite Blonde," 1942
- "Notes for you," 1941
- "Aviation Vacation," 1941
- "Always a Bride," 1940
- "The Long Voyage Home," 1940
- "Tear Gas Squad," 1940
- "It All Came True," 1940
- "The Fighting 69th," 1940
- "Let Freedom Ring" 1939
- "The Crowd Roars," 1938
- "Roof Tops of Manhattan," 1935
- "The Irish in Us," 1935
- "In Caliente," 1935
- "Ireland: 'The Emerald Isle," 1934
- "Stage Mother," 1933
A dispute over Copyright renewal for "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" ended up in the US Supreme Court in 1943. (However, today there is no dispute as to its copyright status; it is now in the public domain, since it was published in the USA prior to 1923.)
- Information about recordings
- Ferguson, Will. "11". Why I Hate Canadians. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 112–113. ISBN 1-55054-600-7.
- Includes list of films in which the song is used
- U.S. Supreme Court FRED FISHER MUSIC CO. v. M. WITMARK & SONS, 318 U.S. 643 (1943)