Beginning in 1906, he had a dual career writing and singing songs on the vaudeville stages.

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Ernest Ball


Gave us "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Composer Ernest Ball was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 22, 1878. He was trained at the Cleveland Conservatory. In 1905, Ball was already in New York City, he was given a few verses written by the then state Senator, James J. Walker, who later became famous as the Dapper Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New York City. He put one of the verse to music, and called it "Will You Love Me In December as You Do In May?", which became a national hit.

Beginning in 1906, Ball had a dual career, writing songs and also singing them himself on the vaudeville stages. At first, he worked alone; but later shared billing with his second wife, Maude Lambert. In 1907 he was a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and signed a contract with Witmark Music as a demonstrator and house composer.

Between 1907 and 1910, Ball wrote a number of popular songs including the first of his Irish ballads, "Mother Machree". He followed this in 1912 with "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". Other highlights from the Ball catalog include “Love Me and the World is Mine”, “Saloon”, “Till the Sands of the Desert Grow Cold”, “Dear Little Boy of Mine”, “I’ll Forget You”, “A Little Bit of Heaven”, “Let the Rest of the World Go By”, “In the Garden of My Heart”, “My Dear”, “Who Knows?”, “Goodbye, Good Luck, God Bless You”, “Turn Back the Universe”, “I Love the Name of Mary”, “To the End of the World With You”, “West of the Great Divide”, “Ireland is Ireland to Me”, “She’s the Daughter of Mother Machree”, “To Have, To Hold, To Love”, “Mother of Pearl”, “For the Sake of Auld Lang Syne” and “You Planted a Rose.”

Ball has said that he became a successful composer when he learned to write songs that came from his heart, and were about things that he knew. He collaborated with several lyricists including Chauncey Olcott, George Graff, Darl MacBoyle, J. Keirn Brennan, James J. Walker, Arthur Penn, Anne Burns, and David Reed.

Ernest Ball died in Santa Ana, California on May 3, 1927.

This American songwriter wrote some of the most popular Irish ballads of all time.