Killaloe The Story behind the tune
Killaloe is a popular march in the Irish Regiments of the British Army. The following is some of the background to the tune. KILLALOE was written around 1887 by a 41-year-old Irish composer named Robert Martin, for the London Musical "Miss Esmeralda" and sung by a Mr E J Lohnen. The lyrics relate the sorry story of a French teacher attempting to make himself understood to a difficult Killaloe class who, totally misunderstood his French, and as a consequence beat him up.
The "Killaloe" song, with original melody in 2/4 time, was made well known in military circles by a cousin of Lt. Charles Martin, who served with the 88th. He composed a new set of lyrics, in 6/8 time, celebrating his Regiment's fame, and although no mention is made of the tune in the Regimental history, there is an interesting explanation which may well account for the shout or yell in the military version of "Killaloe".
In the 1st. Battalion Connaught Rangers, formerly the 88th, a favourite marching tune was "Brian Boru" and this was played generally when the Battalion was marching through a town, or when after a hot and heavy march, the Battalion was feeling the strain. The Commanding Officer wished to revive the spirits of the men. On such occasions, at a time generally given by the Sergeant-Major, all ranks would give a regular "Connaught Yell" during which the Band would make a pause, and then continue playing.
The "KILLALOE" march became popular among the other Irish Regiments and various other sets of lyrics were devised, some none too complimentary in tone. The first known recording of Killaloe was made by Richard Dimbleby when serving as a BBC war correspondent somewhere in Northern France in 1939 to 1940, shortly before Dunkirk, during an outside broadcast of advancing troops. The "Famous Irish Regiment" Dimbleby reports playing as they march past Is not actually named but would have been either the Royal Irish Fusiliers or the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers.
Again in 1944, the BBC recorded The 1st. Battalion, Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers Pipes & Drums playing "Killaloe", by then adopted unofficially as the march of the famous 38th (Irish) Brigade, during the approach to Cassino.
The Royal Irish Rangers inherited Killaloe as their Regimental March and a couple of changes were introduced, firstly the Rangers were an amalgamation comprising the Royal Irish Fusiliers, The Enniskillen Fusiliers and The Royal Ulster Rifles. The Rifles were Light Infantry and brought with them a Bugle Section that was added to the Pipes and Drums to make a full size GPMG SF (heavy machine gun) Platoon. A new arrangement of the tune including the Regimental Band, introduced a bugle fanfare (accompanied by the drums) at the beginning of the tune. Secondly, over the years the tempo and speed at which it was played got a bit faster as it was used to march off the battalions from various parades. Killaloe was adopted by The Royal Irish Regiment on formation on 1st. July 1992