Danny Boy

This article is about the folk song. For other uses, see Danny Boy (disambiguation).
"Danny Boy"
Published 1913
Genre Folk
Writer(s) Frederick Weatherly (lyrics)
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
A piano arrangement of the tune Londonderry Air.

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"Danny Boy" is a ballad written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly and usually set to the Irish tune of the "Londonderry Air".[1] It is most closely associated with Irish communities.


"Danny Boy"

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1940 recording by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra on RCA Bluebird, B-10612-B

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".[2][3]

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.[4]


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![2]


There are various theories as to the true meaning of "Danny Boy".[5] Some have interpreted the song to be a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the Irish diaspora.[5]

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.[6] Indeeed, the song has been covered by a diverse range of male singers, including Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, Daniel O'Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones and Harry Connick Jr amongst many others, all using the original lyrics.


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.

Year Artist Release Notes
1939 Gracie Fields Shipyard Sally soundtrack
1940 Judy Garland Little Nellie Kelly soundtrack Garland also sang it live at her concerts in Ireland and Scotland and most famously at her New York Palace Theatre debut in 1951
1940 Glenn Miller and His Orchestra Single only #17 on Billboard;[10] Arranged by Glenn Miller and pianist Chummy MacGregor
1945 Bing Crosby Merry Christmas Paired with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on its original single
1950 Al Hibbler Single only #9 on the R&B chart[11]
1955 Slim Whitman Single only
1956 Ruby Murray The Voice of Ireland Released as part of her Irish songs album.[12]
1959 Conway Twitty Saturday Night #10 on Billboard Hot 100 and #18 on R&B charts[13] and #1 in Italy[14][15] (banned by the BBC)[16]
1961 Jim Reeves The Blizzard/Danny Boy 7" 45rpm vinyl LP Released as 45rpm vinyl LP which only contained two songs.
1961 Andy Williams Danny Boy and Other Songs I Love to Sing #15 on the U.S. adult contemporary and #64 on the Hot 100 charts[17]
1962 Connie Francis ""Connie Francis Sings Irish Favorites" Released as an all-Irish album.
1964 Judith Durham/
The Seekers
(numerous albums) Judith Durham also performed it solo on many albums and TV appearances
1964 Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles Sweethearts of the Apollo #76 on Hot 100[18]
1965 Johnny Cash Orange Blossom Special
1965 Jackie Wilson Single only #94 on Hot 100 and #25 on R&B charts[19]
1967 Ray Price Danny Boy #60 on Hot 100 and #9 on Country charts[20]
1972 Roy Orbison ""Memphis (album)"
1972 Glen Campbell The Artistry of Glen Campbell
1976 Elvis Presley From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
1979 Thin Lizzy Black Rose: A Rock Legend Gary Moore and Phil Lynott Thin Lizzy had previously recorded an instrumental version, titled Dan, on their Tribute to Deep Purple album in 1972
1990 Carly Simon My Romance (album)
1990 Frank Patterson Miller's Crossing soundtrack Also included in 1999 album, Ireland In Song
1991 Bill Evans Time Remembered (album) Recorded in 1963; released on the CD-version of the album in 1991
1992 John McDermott Independent recording
2002 Jonny Cash "American IV: The Man Comes Around " American Recordings, Universal
2013 Girls' Generation 2011 Girls' Generation Tour CD 2, #7, the song is sung by five members (Taeyeon, Tiffany, Seohyun, Jessica, Sunny)
2013 The Gothard Sisters Compass #11
2014 BYU Vocal Point Lead Now Me On: Hymns and Inspiration
2015 Damien Leith Songs from Ireland #11 in Australia
2015 Lisa Hannigan Fargo Season 2, Episode 7 "Did you do this? No, you did it!"
2016 Emad Younan "The Voice Australia (season 5)


  1. "The 'Danny Boy' Trivia Collection". Standingstones.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  2. 1 2 "Fred Weatherly's own description of writing Danny Boy". Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  3. In Sunshine And In Shadow: The family story of Danny Boy by Anthony Mann (Weatherly's great grandson) ISBN 1300775017
  4. George Petrie: The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1855
  5. 1 2 "The true meaning of Danny Boy". Standingstones.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  6. McCourt, Malachy (30 Mar 2005). Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad (Reprint ed.). New American Library. p. 128. ISBN 0-451-20806-4.
  7. Hinnesbusch, Patricia D. "Irish Song Danny Boy Meaning and History of Irish Ballads." Symbol Meaning for Hundreds of Symbols & Symbol Resources. Living Arts Enterprises, LLC, 14 Sept. 2010.
  8. No byline (2001-08-10), "'Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. 37 (36):11
  9. "[121130] Danny Boy (2011 Girls' Generation Tour)". Youtube.com. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  10. "Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) (song by The Glenn Miller Orchestra) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  11. "Danny Boy (song by Al Hibbler) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  12. "Ruby Murray – The Voice Of Ireland". Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  13. "Danny Boy (song by Conway Twitty) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1959-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
  15. "HPI - Settimana del 26/03/60". Hitparadeitalia.it. 2007-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  16. Leigh, Spencer (2008). This Record Is Not to Be Broadcast Vol. 2: 50 More Records Banned by the BBC (liner notes). Fantastic Voyage. FVDD 038.
  17. "Danny Boy (song by Andy Williams) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1961-10-30. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  18. "Danny Boy (song by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1964-12-19. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  19. "Danny Boy (song by Jackie Wilson) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1965-02-27. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  20. "Danny Boy (song by Ray Price) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1967-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29.

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