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RESEARCH ARTICLE - Kelly from the Isle of Man

Thu, 31 Aug 2017

‘Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?’

By Maurice Powell, 2017

This is the second of three articles about the music hall songs from the heyday of the Island’s entertainment industry.1 In the decades before and just after World War I the ‘Kelly’ songs contributed to the spread of the Island’s name, image and reputation as one of the most vibrant and popular holiday venues, but with the exception of Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly, the ‘Kelly’ songs are little-known today.

     This first official ‘Kelly’ song associated with the Isle of Man was Kelly the Carmen, written and composed by C.W. Murphy2 in 1898 for the popular Lancashire comedian Lester Barrett, and was ‘the rage of Douglas’.3 The song introduces a different character from ‘Kelly the Boatman’ who featured in Oliver Gaggs’ Hi! Kelly! vocal polka of 1887: a certain Casey from Cork who, after spending some years in New York, returns home and attempts to find his friend Martin Kelly - the  name Martin does not appear in any other ‘Kelly’ song - only to be told, ‘Why Kelly’s in the Isle of Man, I’ll swear’.