Josef Locke the ‘Singing Bobby’ who claimed his place in movie history

Josef Locke the ‘Singing Bobby’ who claimed his place in movie history

Josef Locke was a popular Irish singer born in Derry in 1917. He performed in pubs and clubs in England and Ireland throughout the 1940s and 50s.

Locke was one of nine children and his father was a butcher and cattle dealer. He started singing at a very young age and always enjoyed performing.

Josef Locke the ‘Singing Bobby’ who claimed his place in movie history

As a teenager he joined the Irish Guards, before serving with the Palestine Police Force.

Interested in discovering more about your Irish roots? This free online genealogy course with Strathclyde University shows you how to trace your family tree and also covers the use of DNA testing in genealogical research.

He returned to Ireland in the 1930s and joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary. He continued to sing throughout his career and gained the nickname ‘The Singing Bobby’.

Josef’s singing career took him across the Irish Sea to Britain where was a regular performer in clubs and pubs in seaside towns.

His career changed forever when he met agent Jack Hylton. It was Hylton who saw the talent of Locke and he took control of his career.

Interested in discovering more about your Irish roots? This free online genealogy course with Strathclyde University shows you how to trace your family tree and also covers the use of DNA testing in genealogical research.

Interestingly, Locke was not Josef’s real name. His name was Joseph McLaughlin, but when booking him for a show, Hylton couldn’t fit the whole name on the bill, and so Josef Locke was born.

The combination of the change of name, Hylton’s contacts in showbusiness, and Locke’s talent saw him become a star in entertainment and he was a regular performer on TV and radio.

However, the biggest gig of his career came when he was hired to sing the theme song for the 1952 Oscar winning film, The Quiet Man, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne opposite Maureen O’Hara.

The star names attached to the film helped boost Locke’s profile, and the film has gone down as one of the all-time classics.

As the singer of the movie’s theme song, Locke claimed his place in movie history forever.

Click here to read about more great characters from Irish history History

Follow the Irish History Bitesize Facebook page

More on Irish history

Did you know?

Female Irish warrior Grainne Ni Mhaile, or Grace O’Malley is one of the most colourful characters in Irish history. Born around 1530, she was a Pirate Queen and became a constant thorn in the side of British Queen Elizabeth I. Find out more.