Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Danny Boy

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Danny Boy


"Danny Boy" is a ballad written to the tune of an ancient Irish melody. The words were written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly and usually set to the Irish tune of the "Londonderry Air". It is most closely associated with Irish communities.



Initially written to a tune other than "Londonderry Air", the words to "Danny Boy" were penned by English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly in Bath, Somerset in 1910. After his Irish-born sister-in-law Margaret (known as Jess) in the United States sent him a copy of "Londonderry Air" in 1913 (an alternative version has her singing the air to him in 1912 with different lyrics), Weatherly modified the lyrics of "Danny Boy" to fit the rhyme and meter of "Londonderry Air".

Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who made it one of the most popular songs in the new century; and, in 1915, Ernestine Schumann-Heink produced the first recording of "Danny Boy".

Jane Ross of Limavady is credited with collecting the melody of "Londonderry Air" in the mid-19th century from a musician she encountered.


Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
It's you, it's you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
It's I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh Danny boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so!

But if you come, when all the flowers are dying,
And I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an "Avé" there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
and I will sleep in peace until you come to me!


There are various theories as to the true meaning of "Danny Boy". Some have interpreted the song to be a message from a parent to a son going off to a war or uprising (as suggested by the reference to "pipes calling glen to glen") or leaving as part of the Irish diaspora.

The 1918 version of the sheet music included alternative lyrics ("Eily Dear"), with the instructions that "when sung by a man, the words in italic should be used; the song then becomes "Eily Dear", so that "Danny Boy" is only to be sung by a lady". In spite of this, it is unclear whether this was Weatherly's intent. Indeed, the song has been covered by a diverse range of male singers, including Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Shane MacGowan, Jackie Wilson, Daniel O'Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones, John Gary, Jacob Collier and Harry Connick Jr, amongst many others. All used the original lyrics.


  • "Danny Boy" is considered to be an unofficial signature song and anthem, particularly by Irish Americans and Irish Canadians.
  • The song is popular for funerals; but, as it is not liturgical, its suitability as a funeral song is sometimes contested. In 1928, Weatherly himself suggested that the second verse would provide a fitting requiem for the actress Ellen Terry.
  • Characters on 30 Rock occasionally sing or play the song, typically in jokes about Irish American culture or drinking.
  • Barney Gumble sings "Danny Boy" in the seventeenth season of The Simpsons when Moe's Bar is forced to close down.
  • Chumbawamba quotes the lyrics to the song in their own song, "Tubthumping".
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Magic Tree of Nowhere", Courage creates an eel monster that sings lyrics from "Danny Boy".
  • In the Futurama episode "A Pharaoh to Remember", Dr. Zoidberg sings it at a fake funeral for Bender.
  • A big band version of the song is used as the theme for The Danny Thomas Show (a.k.a. Make Room for Daddy).
  • "Danny Boy" was used to represent Northern Ireland at the start of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, sung by a choir of children on the Giant's Causeway.
  • On November 25, 2014, the Vancouver Canucks used the song in honour of the recently deceased Pat Quinn, who played and worked in many executive capacities for the team.
  • In the Modern Family episode "Regrets Only", Jay Pritchett sings this song on a karaoke machine.
  • On April 13, 2013, a South Korean girl group Girls' Generation released the concert album of the 2011 Girls' Generation Asia Tour album. Girls' Generation sang the song on CD 2, track number 7.
  • In The Lego Movie, in the scene where they reach the vent in the Octan tower, the camera zooms into Bad Cop with him singing the lyrics from "Danny Boy".
  • Notable recordings

    "Danny Boy" has been recorded multiple times by a variety of performers. Several versions performed by notable performers are listed below in chronological order.


    Danny Boy Wikipedia

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