Documentary on One: Ireland’s First Superstar

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore is the man who brought us ‘When Johnny comes marching home’. He emigrated to the United States from county Galway in the 1840’s and went on to become the leading band master of his day, entertaining millions of Americans over three decades. But Ireland’s first superstar remains relatively unknown today on both sides of the Atlantic. His band played at presidential inaugurations, the opening of the Statue of liberty and toured across the US for many years.

P.S. Gilmore went on to lead a famous band, he played at six US presidential inaugurations, more than a few significant funerals and at the opening of the Statue of Liberty. He organised two huge events, known as Peace Jubilees in Boston in the 1860’s using hundreds of musicians, thousands of singers, cannon and pyrotechnics. He introduced woodwind to his brass band to form an orchestra sometimes numbering 70 or more players. He played residencies at Gilmore’s garden in New York city (before it became Madison Square Garden ), summer seasons at Manhattan Beach and toured relentlessly across the US. He died suddenly in 1892, at the dawn of recording technology. His mantle was taken by John Philip Sousa. Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore is not very well known outside band music circles in the US, apart from the song ‘When Johnny comes marching home’ which he wrote under a pen name and to a tune he said he heard being whistled while he served in the Union army during the US Civil War.