John McCormack – a long way from Tipperary

John McCormack was one of the most highly acclaimed singers of his generation, recording and releasing hundreds of classical, traditional and popular songs.

Born in Athlone, Ireland, McCormack won the gold medal for tenors at the Irish National Music Festival (Feis Ceoil) in 1903, at the age of 19. Following this he travelled to Italy to be trained by Vincenzo Sabatini, a noted singing coach.

Success and accolades followed; McCormack was soon singing with the Royal Opera, their youngest ever principal tenor at that time, and releasing records which sold in great numbers.

His repertoire included traditional and nationalist Irish songs such as ‘The Wearing of the Green’, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ and ‘Macushla’; he was a keen supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.  McCormack was the first singer to record ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ which was the biggest hit of 1915 and a popular marching song with soldiers on the Western Front.

McCormack travelled extensively to perform, visiting America, Australia and even Japan, becoming an American citizen in 1917.

He can be seen in the new decade of the Passenger Lists, travelling with his wife to the States in 1934. He is listed as Count John McCormack and she as Countess. The ‘Count’ appendage refers to a Papal title given to him by Pope Pius XI to recognise his generosity towards Catholic charities.

John McCormack

It is worth noting that, although Irish born, the McCormacks are both noted as being citizens of the U.S.A. in the Passenger List entry, due to their naturalisation there.

Visit the website of the John McCormack Society here.

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