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Song Lyric Sunday — Danny Boy

song lyric sunday


image link and more info about the song

Although there were several good choices for Song Lyric Sunday’s theme of boys, I chose this one.  My firstborn is named after it and it is one that makes me cry every time I hear it sung right. Joe Feeney, who sang many beautiful Irish tunes on the Lawrence Welk Show, could sing it right.   My grandfather, among one of the first union organizers in this county, also had a beautiful voice.  He sang this song on the local radio station.

Looking up the song origins, I was very surprised to hear that an Englishman wrote the lyrics, setting them to an ancient Irish melody.  If you go to wiki, you will see there have been many different sets of lyrics set to it, but this set is the best known.

all from wikipedia:

“Danny Boy” is a ballad set to an ancient Irish melody. English songwriter Frederic Weatherly wrote the lyrics (published in 1913), which are usually set to the Irish tune of the “Londonderry Air”. The song was written in a small town called ‘Limavady’ The Londonderry Air is an air (a song-like vocal or instrumental composition. The term can also be applied to the interchangeable melodies of folk songs and ballads) that originated in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is popular among the Irish people who live outside of Ireland and their descendants and is well known throughout the world.


The air came from the name of County Londonderry, and was collected by Jane Ross of Limavady in the county. Ross submitted the tune to music collector George Petrie, and it was then published by the Society for the Preservation and Publication of the Melodies of Ireland in the 1855 book The Ancient Music of Ireland, which Petrie edited. (Michael Robinson. “Danny Boy—the mystery solved!”. The Standing Stones. Retrieved 2007-07-26.)

For the following beautiful air I have to express my very grateful acknowledgement to Miss J. Ross, of New Town, Limavady, in the County of Londonderry—a lady who has made a large collection of the popular unpublished melodies of the county, which she has very kindly placed at my disposal, and which has added very considerably to the stock of tunes which I had previously acquired from that still very Irish county. I say still very Irish, for though it has been planted for more than two centuries by English and Scottish settlers, the old Irish race still forms the great majority of its peasant inhabitants; and there are few, if any counties in which, with less foreign admixture, the ancient melodies of the country have been so extensively preserved. The name of the tune unfortunately was not ascertained by Miss Ross, who sent it to me with the simple remark that it was ‘very old’, in the correctness of which statement I have no hesitation in expressing my perfect concurrence.(Petrie, George (1855). The Petrie collection of the ancient music of Ireland : arranged for the piano-forte. 1. Dublin. p. 57. Retrieved 11 December 2017.)

“Danny Boy”, sung by John Gary, who does it with great skill, on the 1977 CBC special:

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,
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 come ye back, 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!


18 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Danny Boy

    1. Yes and it breaks my heart. Nobody who is just going through the motions should ever sing this song. I looked for versions out there by the Celtic Ladies and Celtic Thunder but although they were technically good, there was no heart in their singing. I didn’t know any of the background until searching last night. A lot of research has been done on it. The stories vary as do the lyrics.


  1. My mom’s a huge fan of the Celtic Thunder and Celtic Ladies, so I’ve heard their versions of this song plenty of times, but you’re right, this version has all the heart and is just beautiful, thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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