Origin of the Song ‘Danny Boy’

The famous Irish song ‘Dannny Boy’ is one of over 100 songs composed to the same tune. The author was the English lawyer, songwriter and entertainer, Frederic Edward Weatherly (1848-1929). He wrote the lyrics to Danny Boy in the year 1910 but only used the traditional tune when he was sent the ‘Londonderry Air’ by his sister-in-law in 1912.



The song was republished in 1913. Alfred Perceval Graves was a friend of Weatherly but the two fell out when Graves claimed that his friend had stolen some of the lyrics that Graves himself had written for the song. The tune was also known as the ‘Air from County Derry’.

The earliest recorded appearance of the song in print was in the year 1855 in ‘Ancient Music of Ireland’ by George Petrie (1789-1866) when it was given to Petrie by Jane Ross of Limavady in County Derry, who claimed to have copied the tune from an itinerant piper.

The song became very popular in America where it was recorded by Bing Crosby. It has been used by many Irish folk, traditional and even rock musicians ever since. The famous Irish rock band, Thin Lizzy, used the music on their 1979 album, ‘Black Rose’.

It remains as one of the most popular and well known Irish love songs of all time.

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Lyrics to the Song ‘Danny Boy’

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 flowers are dying
‘Tis you, ’tis 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
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an ‘Ave’ there for me.

And I shall hear, tho’ soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you’ll not fail to tell me that you love me
I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me

I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

Listen to the tune to this and other famous Irish songs here:
http://www.ireland-information.com/irishmusic/

by Michael Green
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About the author

Michael Green Michael Green is Manager of The Information about Ireland Site

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