Danny Boy

"Danny Boy" is a ballad set to a traditional Irish melody. English songwriter Frederic Weatherly wrote the lyrics in Bath, Somerset, England in 1913. The lyrics were rearranged in order to better suit the accompanying melody of "Londonderry Air" after Weatherly heard a copy of the tune sent to him from the US by his sister, affectionately known as 'Jess'.

"Danny Boy"
Songwriter(s)Frederic Weatherly (lyrics) in 1910


In Bath, Somerset in 1910, English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly initially wrote the words to "Danny Boy" to a tune other than "Londonderry Air". 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".[1][2]

Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who made it one of the most popular songs in the new century. 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.[3]


The 1913 lyrics by Frederick E. Weatherly:

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 when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,

If 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, 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![4]


Various suggestions exist 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 a war or uprising (as suggested by the reference to "pipes calling glen to glen") 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] Indeed, the song has been covered by a diverse range of male singers, including Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Shane MacGowan, Jackie Wilson, Daniel O'Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones, John Gary, Frank Patterson, Jacob Collier, Harry Connick Jr., and comedian Peter Kay amongst many others. All used the original lyrics.



Southern gospel singer Dottie Rambo adapted the melody for her song, "He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need", which was also notably sung by George Beverly Shea.

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.[13]

1939 (1939)Gracie FieldsShipyard Sally soundtrack
1940 (1940)Judy GarlandLittle Nellie Kelly soundtrackGarland 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 OrchestraSingle only#17 in "Pop Memories 1890-1954" (not from "Billboard's" charts);[12] Arranged by Glenn Miller and pianist Chummy MacGregor
1941 (1941)Bing CrosbyMerry ChristmasPaired with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on its original single. Originally recorded July 5, 1941.[14]
1941 (1941)Deanna DurbinIt Started with Eve (musical comedy film)YouTube, "Deanna Durbin sings 'Danny Boy' for Charles Laughton". (by music rights clearance)
1950 Eugene Conley Eugene Conley, Robert Farnon And His Orchestra– A Concert of Favorites by Eugene Conley (tenor) Released with "I Hear You Calling Me," "Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life," "Forgotten," "Because," "Thine Alone," "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," Beloved.[15]
1950 (1950)Al HibblerSingle only#9 on the R&B chart[16]
1955 (1955)Slim WhitmanSingle only
1956 (1956)Ruby MurrayThe Voice of IrelandReleased as part of her Irish songs album.[17]
1959 (1959)Conway TwittySaturday 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 ReevesThe Blizzard/Danny Boy 7" 45rpm vinyl LP#27 on RCA Victor 7855 in "Music Vendor"
1961 (1961)Andy WilliamsDanny 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 FrancisConnie Francis Sings Irish FavoritesReleased 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 JamesOne Night Stand With Harry James on Tour in '64Buddy Rich on drums
1964 (1964)Patti LaBelle and the BluebellesSweethearts of the Apollo#76 on Hot 100[23]
1965 Johnny Cash Orange Blossom Special
1965 (1965)Jackie WilsonSingle only#94 on Hot 100 and #25 on R&B charts[24]
1967 (1967)Ray PriceDanny Boy#60 on Hot 100 and #9 on Country charts[25]
1967 (1967)Tom Jones13 Smash HitsAlso included in 1969 album Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas
1972 (1972)Roy OrbisonMemphis
1972 (1972)Glen CampbellThe Artistry of Glen Campbell
1976 (1976)Elvis PresleyFrom Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TennesseeRecorded 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.
1978 (1978)The Kelly FamilyDanny Boy / Agur Jaunak
1979 (1979)Willie NelsonOne for The RoadRecorded on Nelson's 1979 collaboration album One for The Road with singer-songwriter Leon Russell
1979 (1979)Thin LizzyBlack Rose: A Rock LegendGary 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 SimonMy Romance
1990 (1990)Frank PattersonMiller's Crossing soundtrackAlso included in 1999 album, Ireland In Song
1991 (1991)Bill EvansTime RememberedRecorded in 1963; released on the CD-version of the album in 1991
1992 (1992)Eric ClaptonChange the worldInstrumental recording as bonustrack
1992 (1992)John McDermottIndependent recording
1998 (1998)Jacintha AbisheganadenHere's To Ben – A Vocal Tribute To Ben WebsterGroove Note
2002 (2002)Johnny CashAmerican IV: The Man Comes AroundAmerican Recordings, Universal
2002 (2002)Eva CassidyImagineBlix Street
2004 (2004)Carol NoonanSomebody's Darling[26]Performed live[27] and noted by NPR[28]
2005 Celtic Woman Celtic Woman Performed by Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. Rereleased in the 2015 album Decade. The Songs, The Show, The Traditions, The Classics
2009 (2009)Mormon Tabernacle Choir and OrchestraDanny Boy, Live at Red RocksPerformed live at the Red 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[29]
2012 (2012)BYU's Vocal PointDanny BoyAvailable on the Vocal Point YouTube Channel[30]
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 SistersCompass#11
2015 (2015)Damien LeithSongs from Ireland#11 in Australia
2015 (2015)Lisa HanniganFargoSeason 2, Episode 7 "Did you do this? No, you did it!"
2015 Jacob Collier Maida Vale session for BBC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXIApugIuqk
2017 (2017)Bill EvansEmpathyRecorded in 1962 featuring 3:41 version with the trio - bonus 10:43 solo piano version added to JAZZTWINS 2017 vinyl release
2019 (2019)Andrea BocelliSì Forever (The Diamond Edition)Called Ragazzo Mio (Danny Boy) and is sung in both Italian and English


  1. "Fred Weatherly's own description of writing Danny Boy". Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  2. In Sunshine And In Shadow: The family story of Danny Boy by Anthony Mann (Weatherly's great grandson) ISBN 1300775017
  3. George Petrie: The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1855
  4. "The 'Danny Boy' Trivia Collection". www.standingstones.com. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  5. "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. National Anthems ""
  9. Londonderry Air
  10. No byline (2001-08-10), "'Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. 37 (36):11
  11. "[121130] Danny Boy (2011 Girls' Generation Tour)". Youtube.com. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  12. "Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) (song by The Glenn Miller Orchestra) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  13. https://cover.info/de/song/Londonderry-Air
  14. "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  15. Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1950-10-14). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  16. "Danny Boy (song by Al Hibbler) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 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". Musicvf.com. 1959-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2013-08-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. "HPI - Settimana del 26/03/60". Hitparadeitalia.it. 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". Musicvf.com. 1961-10-30. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  23. "Danny Boy (song by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1964-12-19. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  24. "Danny Boy (song by Jackie Wilson) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1965-02-27. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  25. "Danny Boy (song by Ray Price) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1967-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  26. "Somebody's Darling: Songs of War, Loss and Remembrance A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Roberta B. Schwartz". 2005. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  27. "Stone Mountain LIVE appearance". 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  28. "A 'Danny Boy' for My Father". 2006-03-12. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  29. "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.
  30. "Danny Boy - BYU Vocal Point". 2012-11-14. Retrieved 2018-06-08. or the "Music Video Hits, Vol. 1" album
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