Killaloe is the Regimental Quick March of the British Army regiment, The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment). It has informal, historical associations with other Irish Regiments and Brigades: as an unofficial march by the Connaught Rangers and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and at brigade level in World War II by the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade. It is also the regimental march of the South African Irish Regiment.
"Killaloe" is a popular march in the Irish Regiments of the British Army, written in 1887 by a 41-year-old Irish composer named Robert "Ballyhooly Bob" Martin of Ross, for the Strand located Gaiety Theatre musical production "Miss Esmeralda", a burlesque production based on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Mr E. J. Lonnen, playing Frollo the monk, sang the song to great acclaim.
Robert Martin was the elder brother of Violet Martin, more famous as "Martin Ross" of the literary cousins "Somerville & Ross", who wrote "Remniscences of an Irish R.M." and other stories. Bob Martin gained his nickname from his even more famous hit of the time "Ballyhooly March". As a Galway estate landowner he was related through his bohemian cousin Willie Wills, the famous Victorian court artist and composer, to General John Doyle, who founded the 87th, later the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Martin was so impoverished by the Land League rent strikes that he moved to London and turned to journalism, burlesque song writing and politics. He worked for the Sporting Chronicle, nicknamed "The Pink'un", on account of the colour of the paper, a Victorian version of "Private Eye" crossed with "News of the World".
He was also a member of the Pelican Club, a notorious group of aristocracy, gentry, sportsmen, army officers, sporting journalists and other colourful characters who believed in living life to the full, usually well beyond their means, and who held court at Romano's restaurant in the Strand, near the Gaiety Theatre. A significant number of the aristocracy scandalised Victorian society by marrying "Gaiety Girls" who provided the glamour in the burlesque productions, hence the nickname "The actressocracy" for these socially climbing girls. PG Wodehouse took many of the exploits of this Victorian social group, he was a young reporter at the time, and subsequently reset them very successfully in the 1920s and 30s, around the exploits of Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. The character of Galahad Threepwood, brother to the Earl of Emsworth, is an actual member of the Pelicans (cf. "A Pelican at Blandings").
Martin was politically active as a boycotted landowner, staunch unionist, political activist, an "Emergency man" and a close associate of Arthur Balfour, first Secretary for Ireland and later Prime Minister. His virulent Anti Home Rule views are reflected in his songs, which consistently depict the Irish as drunken, brawling if loveable rogues who were clearly unfit to govern themselves! Martin wrote about thirty songs for various burlesque productions, including "Murphy of the Irish Fusiliers", although a copy of this has yet to surface!
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Well I Happened to be born
I've one father that I swear
"May we" Mosso would cry,
Oh boys, where was the fun, you should see him when 'twas done
To the magistrate he went, and a lot of time he shpent
If disgraces you would try, or would prove an alibi
Now I'm glad to find 'tis true, you are pleased with Killaloe
You may talk of Bonyparty.....
Connaught Ranger Lyrics
The Devil's Own had lyrics of their own, composed in c.1890 by Lieutenant Charles Martin:
In our army we're the best
You may talk about your guards boys
Now allow me here to state,
T'was Bonaparte who said as the Frenchmen on he led
Now you haven't far to search, for the lads who best can march
Royal Irish Ranger lyrics
The soldiers of the Royal Irish Rangers had their own words to the tune which would be sung, sotto voce, as they marched. They may be based on the Connaught Ranger version:
We're the Irish Rangers,