The lyrics to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling create a romantic image of Ireland and were written in 1912 for a Broadway musical called The Isle O’ Dreams.
The warmth and sentimentality of the words, together with the catchy melody in waltz time, made it an instant hit.
The chords are also very straightforward, which made it easy to play and so helped the sales of sheet music when the song was particularly popular between 1912 and the early 1920s.
The chorus is the best known part of the song. Many performances begin with the chorus rather than the first verse.
And I’m wondering why,
With such pow’r in your smile,
Like some fairy song,
For your smile is a part
Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter and light.
For the springtime of life
Is the sweetest of all
There is ne’er a real care or regret;
And while springtime is ours
Throughout all of youth’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.