Tune of the Day: Garryowen
The word garryowen is derived from Irish, the proper name Eóghan (“born of the yew tree”) and the word for garden garrai, thus “Eóghan's Garden”. The term seems to refer to an area of the town of Limerick, Ireland.
The origins of Garryowen are unclear, but it 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 and was played throughout the Napoleonic War, becoming the regimental march of the Royal Irish Regiment.
A very early reference to the tune appears in The Life of the Duke of Wellington by J.H. Stocqueler, published in 1853. He describes the defense of the town of Tarifa in late 1811, during the Peninsular War. General H. Gough, 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.”
It later became the marching tune for the US 7th Cavalry Regiment during the late 1800s. The tune was a favorite of General 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.