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"Danny Boy" is a ballad set to an ancient Irish melody. The words were 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"
Published 1913
Genre Folk
Songwriter(s) Frederic Weatherly (lyrics)



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 of the story 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 sang the first recording of "Danny Boy" on 26th September, 1917.

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,
And I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and 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 shall sleep in peace until you come to me![2][5]


There are various suggestions as to the true meaning of "Danny Boy".[6] 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.[6]

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.[7] Indeed, the song has been covered by a diverse range of male singers, including Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, 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.[8][not in citation given]
  • The song is popular for funerals; but, as it is not liturgical, its suitability as a funeral song is sometimes contested.[9] In 1928, Weatherly himself suggested that the second verse would provide a fitting requiem for the actress Ellen Terry.
  • Danny Boy is played by the Grimethorpe Band in the movie BRASSED OFF as the band gather outside the hospital to play a surprise performance for their dying (they think) conductor (the actor Pete Postlethwaite). It is a terrifically moving scene as the players, who are miners, turn off their helmet lights at the conclusion.
  • In the 1988 TV movie for Showtime GOTHAM J.B. White (a professional screenwriter in his own right), playing a homeless man, sings "Danny Boy" to Virginia Madsen and Tommy Lee Jones, accompanying himself on a guitar, for a $5 tip.[10][11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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 25 November 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 13 April 2013, the 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.[13]
  • 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".
  • In the Schitt's Creek episode "Carl's Funeral," Moira sings "Danny Boy" at a funeral service, with the crowd eventually joining in.
  • Potato sings "Danny Boy" immediately before he gets peeled in the 2016 comedy Sausage Party.
  • In the Netflix web series Iron Fist (TV series), "Danny Boy" is a song loathed by the protagonist Danny Rand, and was sung often by antagonist Harold Meachum.
  • Figure skating world champion Javier Fernández skated an exhibition program to Danny Boy choreographed by David Wilson, which Fernández debuted in Boston following his victory at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships.[14]
  • Miranda Sings sings "Danny Boy" at the end of Episode 3, Season 1 of Netflix original series "Haters Back Off".
  • Harry Connick, Jr. sang it in the movie Memphis Belle.
  • In the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV, Patrick "Packie" McReary will sometimes drunkenly sing the song after a drinking session with the protagonist.
  • Johnny Cash's version of the song appears in the first episode of the second series of Peaky Blinders.
  • Raven sings "Danny Boy" instead of the traditional New Year's Eve Auld Lang Syne song during the episode "More of the Same" on Teen Titans Go!.
  • In the 2017 TV series When Calls the Heart, Elizabeth Thatcher sings "Danny Boy" at a recital after Constable Jack Thornton leaves for the Northern Territories.
  • On the Sept. 22, 2017 edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, Martin Short sings "Danny Boy" to Bill Maher after Maher jokes that having "Danny Boy" sung to him is on his bucket list.

Notable recordingsEdit

"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 (1939) Gracie Fields Shipyard Sally soundtrack
1940 (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 (1940) Glenn Miller and His Orchestra Single only #17 on Billboard;[14] Arranged by Glenn Miller and pianist Chummy MacGregor
1941 (1941) Bing Crosby Merry Christmas Paired with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on its original single. Originally recorded July 5, 1941.[15]
1950 (1950) Al Hibbler Single only #9 on the R&B chart[16]
1955 (1955) Slim Whitman Single only
1956 (1956) Ruby Murray The Voice of Ireland Released as part of her Irish songs album.[17]
1959 (1959) Conway Twitty Saturday Night #10 on Billboard Hot 100 and #18 on R&B charts[18] and #1 in Italy[19][20] (banned by the BBC)[21]
1961 (1961) Jim Reeves The Blizzard/Danny Boy 7" 45rpm vinyl LP Released as 45rpm vinyl LP which only contained two songs.
1961 (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[22]
1962 (1962) Connie Francis ""Connie Francis Sings Irish Favorites" Released as an all-Irish album.
1964 (1964) Judith Durham/
The Seekers
(numerous albums) Judith Durham also performed it solo on many albums and TV appearances
1964 (1964) Harry James One Night Stand With Harry James on Tour in '64 Buddy Rich on drums
1964 (1964) Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles Sweethearts of the Apollo #76 on Hot 100[23]
1965 Johnny Cash Orange Blossom Special
1965 (1965) Jackie Wilson Single only #94 on Hot 100 and #25 on R&B charts[24]
1967 (1967) Ray Price Danny Boy #60 on Hot 100 and #9 on Country charts[25]
1967 (1967) Tom Jones 13 Smash Hits Also included in 1969 album Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas
1972 (1972) Roy Orbison ""Memphis (album)"
1972 (1972) Glen Campbell The Artistry of Glen Campbell
1976 (1976) Elvis Presley From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee Recorded in response to a request from his father, Vernon, this is from Elvis' penultimate studio recording session in February 1976, recorded in the Jungle Room of Elvis' home in Graceland.
1979 (1979) Thin Lizzy Black Rose: A Rock Legend Gary Moore and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy had previously recorded an instrumental version, titled Dan, on their Tribute to Deep Purple album in 1972
1990 (1990) Carly Simon My Romance (album)
1990 (1990) Frank Patterson Miller's Crossing soundtrack Also included in 1999 album, Ireland In Song
1991 (1991) Bill Evans Time Remembered (album) Recorded in 1963; released on the CD-version of the album in 1991
1992 (1992) John McDermott Independent recording
1998 (1998) Jacintha Abisheganaden Here's To Ben – A Vocal Tribute To Ben Webster Groove Note
2002 (2002) Johnny Cash "American IV: The Man Comes Around " American Recordings, Universal
2002 (2002) Eva Cassidy Imagine Blix Street
2009 (2009) Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra Danny Boy, Live at Red Rocks Performed live at the Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado during the 2009 Central US Tour. Arranged by Mack Wilberg. The performance was recorded and it is available at Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Youtube Channel[26]
2013 Girls' Generation 2011 Girls' Generation Tour CD 2, #7, the song is sung by five members (Taeyeon, Tiffany, Seohyun, Jessica, Sunny)
2013 (2013) The Gothard Sisters Compass #11[citation needed]
2015 (2015) Damien Leith Songs from Ireland #11 in Australia[citation needed]
2015 (2015) Lisa Hannigan Fargo Season 2, Episode 7 "Did you do this? No, you did it!"
2015 Jacob Collier Maida Vale session for BBC


  1. ^ "The 'Danny Boy' Trivia Collection". Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  2. ^ a b "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. ^ Danny Boy 1913 sheet music, Duke University Libraries
  6. ^ a b "The true meaning of Danny Boy". Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ No byline (2001-08-10), "'Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. 37 (36):11
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "[121130] Danny Boy (2011 Girls' Generation Tour)". 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  14. ^ a b "Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) (song by The Glenn Miller Orchestra) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  15. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 20, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Al Hibbler) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  17. ^ "Ruby Murray – The Voice Of Ireland". Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Conway Twitty) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". 1959-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  20. ^ "HPI - Settimana del 26/03/60". 2007-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Andy Williams) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". 1961-10-30. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  23. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". 1964-12-19. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  24. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Jackie Wilson) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". 1965-02-27. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  25. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Ray Price) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". 1967-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  26. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra. Danny Boy. Arranged by Mack Wilberg. Colorado, Red Rocks Amphitheater, 2009. Live performance recorded". 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 

External linksEdit