You are here: Aufrance.com > Music > Blog > Reno Contra Dance

Blog & News

Garry Owen:
More than you probably ever wanted to know!

Since the tune Garry Owen is our top download by Gairin fans in the UK, here goes... This song emerged in the late 18th century, when it was a drinking song of rich young roisterers in Limerick. It obtained immediate popularity in the British Army through the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers.

The word garryowen is derived from Irish, the proper name Eoghan ("born of the yew tree") and the word for garden garrai, thus "Eoghan's Garden." It refers to the area of Garryowen in the city of Limerick, Ireland.

Even Beethoven Ripped Off Garry Owen!

Beethoven composed two arrangements of the song in 1809 to 1810 (published 1814 to 1816 in W.o.O. 152 and W.o.O. 154) to the title, "From Garyone My Happy Home", with lyrics by T. Toms, on romantic themes. The arrangements were part of a large project by George Thomson to engage prominent composers of his day to write arrangements of the folk songs of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The Lords, Viscounts and Grenadiers Sure Liked It Too. And the French Ran Away!

A very early reference to the tune appears in The Life of the Duke of Wellington by Jocquim Hayward Stocqueler, published in 1853. He describes the defense of the town of Tarifa in late December 1811, during the Peninsular War. General H. Gough, later Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough, commanding officer of the 87th Regiment (at that time known as the Royal Irish Fusiliers), after repulsing an attack by French Grenadiers ". . .was not, however, merely satisfied with resistance. When the enemy, scared, ran from the walls, he drew his sword, made the band strike up 'Garry Owen', and followed the fugitives for two or three hundred yards."

Garryowen was also a favourite in the Crimean War. The tune has also been associated with a number of British military units, and is the authorised regimental march of The Irish Regiment of Canada. It was the regimental march of the Liverpool Irish, British Army. It is the regimental march of the London Irish Rifles (now part of The London Regiment (TA)). It was also the regimental march of the 50th (The Queen's Own) Foot (later The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment) until 1869.

Even Horses Dance to Garryowen!

Garryowen is the Quick March and Canter March of the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, a civilian organisation based in South West Wales, who perform Cavalry and Living History Displays, including the Welsh Horse Musical Ride, in which the tune Garryowen features prominently.

Garryowen became the marching tune for the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Militia, (the famed "Fighting 69th" ) in the mid-19th century. The "Fighting 69th" adopted Garryowen before the Civil War and recently brought it back to combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It later became the marching tune for the American 7th Cavalry Regiment during the late 19th century. Most folks already know that the tune was a favorite of General George Armstrong Custer and became the official air of the regiment in 1867. According to legend it was the last tune played before the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The name of the tune has become a part of the regiment, the words Garry Owen are part of the regimental crest. There is a Camp Garry Owen, north of Seoul, Korea, which houses part of the 4th Squadron of the regiment. There is also a currently operating Forward Operating Base, FOB Garryowen, within the Maysan province of Iraq. FOB Garryowen was established in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 8 to 10 in June 2008 by 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. The 7th Cavalry became a part of the 1st Cavalry Division in 1921, and "Garryowen" became the official tune of the division in 1981. The tune became the name for bases established by the Cavalry in current conflicts. The most recent was Combat Operating Base, (COB), Garry Owen in the Maysan Province of Iraq. The base was near the city of Al Amarra and was established by the 2/7 CAV.

Garryown is Our Top Track!
Here are the Top 10

Since our digital downloader Routenote just released our Top 10 Tracks downloaded online, we want to send Huge Thanks to all who download and enjoy our music! It's an honor that Our Gairin Garry Owen took the #1 spot; and, especially that it's in the UK! Here's what else everybody likes best, too.

Our Top 10 Tracks

1. Garry Owen

2. Golden Slippers
3. Twas In The Moon of Wintertime
4. Mr Potato Head
5. Rakes of Mallow
6. Christmas In Killarney and Morrison's Jig
7. Oh Susanna Oh California
8. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
9. Go Ask The Rain
10. Country Waltz

View More News and Blog Entries

Go to Next >

Download music by Tom and Mary Kay

Our Spotify Site Cowboy Boots and Golden Slippers CD Old Time Music Ramblin Irishman CD Musical Dreams CD In the Moon of Wintertime CD Musical Dreams Book and CD Ramblin Irishman Book and CD 23 Songs and Tunes Sheet Music Plus