Traditional Irish  

Danny Boy

Get hard-to-find cd's at ArkivMusic
Buy sheetmusic for this work at SheetMusicPlus
"Danny Boy"
Published 1913
Genre Ballad
Writer Frederick Weatherly (Lyrics)

"Danny Boy" is a ballad written by Frederick Weatherly and usually set to the tune of the Londonderry Air; it is most closely associated with Irish communities.



The lyrics to "Danny Boy" were written by the English lawyer and lyricist Frederick Weatherly in 1910. Although the lyrics were originally written for a different tune, Weatherly modified them to fit "Londonderry Air" in 1913 when his sister-in-law in America sent him a copy.[1]Ernestine Schumann-Heink made the first recording in 1915. Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who in turn made it one of the most popular songs in the new century. In 1928, Weatherly suggested that the second verse would provide a fitting requiem for the actress Ellen Terry.

There are several theories as to the true meaning of "Danny Boy" [2]. The song has been interpreted by some listeners as a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the Irish diaspora. 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". However, it is unclear whether this was Weatherly's intent, or simply a publisher's note. Weatherly acknowledged that "Danny Boy" was sung "all over the world by Sinn Feiners and Ulstermen alike". Weatherly also noted that the song had "nothing of the rebel song in it, and no note of bloodshed".

The song is widely considered an Irish anthem, although Weatherly was an Englishman. Nonetheless, "Danny Boy" is considered by many Irish Canadians to be their unofficial signature song [3]


(There is a number of variations on these lyrics.)

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 leaves are falling
T'is you, T'is 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
t'is I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And when ye come, and all the flow'rs are dying
If 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 "Ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And oh, my grave shall warmer, sweeter be
For ye will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.


"Danny Boy" has been recorded many times by a variety of artists. Many versions are listed below by notable artists in descending chronological order.

  • 2010 - Richmond-based Irish American Pub Band, Uisce Beatha, recorded several versions for WCVE's Danny Boy Project, some featuring the additional vocals of the Ba-Heads of Rare Olde Times pub.
  • 2010 - The Pimpmasters recorded this for their first single, "Public Domain Hell"
  • 2010 - Liam McNally sang this song at the Britain's Got Talent Final.
  • 2010 - Colm Wilkinson on his album "Broadway And Beyond The Concert Songs"
  • 2010 - Patricia Kelly of The Kelly Family included an acoustic version on her album It Is Essential
  • 2010 - Liz Madden on her album "My Irish Home"
  • 2009 - Lee Ji Eun on the original soundtrack of Korean movie '"Paradise"
  • 2009 - Culann's Hounds on their album One for the Road
  • 2008 - Tim Janis on his album "An Enchanted Evening" and performed by Fionnuala Gill
  • 2008 - Celtic Thunder sung a cappella on their album "Act Two"
  • 2008 - The Ten Tenors recorded it on their album "Nostalgica"
  • 2008 - Amy Walker recorded the song in a deeply emotional version posted on YouTube [4]
  • 2007 - Franc D'Ambrosio's album "Franc D'Ambrosio's Hollywood - Songs from the Silver Screen".
  • 2007 - Hayley Westenra's UK album Treasure and the international counterpart Celtic Treasure include her rendition of the song.
  • 2007 - Daniel Johns from Silverchair and Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger recorded a duet version of this song
  • 2007 - Damien Leith, winner of Australian Idol 2006, featured an acoustic version of his homeland's traditional song on his debut album, Where We Land. The version also features Leith on guitar and was originally recorded for a fan. Also recorded a raw version on his latest album Where We Land
  • 2006 - Michael Londra, on his album "CELT" and on Youtube clip
  • 2006 - Great Big Sea,on the concert DVD "Courage & Grit & Patience" Sean McCann sings Danny Boy
  • 2006 - Finbar Wright,on his album "The Essential Finbar Wright" produced by Mike Batt
  • 2006 - Tir na n'Og, Serbian celtic band, recorded it on their debut album
  • 2006 - Till Brönner on his album Oceana
  • 2006 - Thomas Quasthoff on his album A Romantic Songbook
  • 2006 - The Poxy Boggards on Whiskey Business
  • 2006 - Natalie MacMaster, Cape Breton fiddler, on her Yours Truly album with vocals by Michael McDonald
  • 2006 - Great Big Sea recorded it for their live concert DVD Courage & Patience & Grit
  • 2006 - G4 on their Act 3 album
  • 2005 - The Choirboys (boyband) recorded the song on their album self-titled album
  • 2005 - Celtic Woman on their self-titled album (initially performed by Méav who also did the same thing for her Celtic Journey solo album and 2007 concert)
  • 2005 - Bryn Terfel on his album titled Bryn Terfel Sings Favourites (2003), reissued as Bryn double CD Special Edition
  • 2004 - Finbar Wright,Ronan Tynan,Anthony Kearns on The Irish Tenors album "Heritage"
  • 2004 - Brian Kennedy, recorded it on his Live in Belfast album
  • 2003 - Nigel Kennedy, recorded it on his Nigel Kennedy's Greatest Hits album with Liam O'Flynn and Osian Ellis
  • 2002 – Johnny Cash, who had recorded another version of the song in 1965, recorded it for American IV: The Man Comes Around, his final album to be released during his lifetime.
  • 2002 - Mireille Mathieu, recorded the French version titled L'enfant De L'Irlande Children of Ireland on her Amoureusement Votre 3 CD box set
  • 2002 - Megan Mullally (Karen of Will and Grace) recorded it on her album Big as a Berry.
  • 2002 - Eva Cassidy's recording of the song was posthumously published on the album Imagine
  • 2002 - Declan Galbraith The opening track on his debut album Declan
  • 2002 - Chloë Agnew on her self-titled album
  • 2002 - Brobdingnagian Bards recorded it for their album Songs of Ireland
  • 2002 - Andy Williams recorded it on his Danny Boy album re-released as Andy Williams-Danny Boy/Wonderful World 2 CD set on the Collectible label
  • 2002 - Ruben Blades recorded on the Grammy-winning album "Mundo".
  • 2001 - Off Kilter, add their Celtic rock influence to it on their album Etched In Stone, and then again on 2004's album The Live Tracks
  • 2000 - Tommy Fleming recorded it on his Contender album
  • 2000 - Judy Collins sang it at her Live at Wolf Trap concert (CD & DVD)
  • 1999 - Finbar Wright sang it in his Opera Concert broadcast on Public Television (VHS). The concert contained several non-operatic pieces.
  • 1999 - Irish Tenors, (Ronan Tynan, John McDermott and Anthony Kearns) recorded it on the Irish Tenors album
  • 1999 - Harry Connick Jr's big-band record Come By Me has a voice and piano take on this song. His character Daniel sings Danny Boy at a talent show in the movie Life Without Dick. As a cast member in the 1990 World War II aviation film Memphis Belle he sings the song at a dance. It becomes the principal music theme of the film, particularly prominent in the harrowing ending and the end credits
  • 1999 - Diana Krall performed the song with The Chieftains on their album Tears of Stone
  • 1999 - Charlotte Church recorded the song on her Voice of an Angel album
  • 1998 - Vox One recorded the song on their Chameleon album
  • 1996 - Eric Clapton recorded a version on the 'Change the World' CD Single
  • 1996 - Joseph Flummerfelt arranged, conducted and recorded this piece with the Westminster Choir for the Spoleto Festival USA
  • 1996 - Don Walser recorded a version on Texas Top Hand; it's also included on Walser's best-of compilation, Dare To Dream.
  • 1994 - Black 47 for their album Home of the Brave, a rather different version, only retaining the melody and one of the original verses
  • 1993 - Séamus Kennedy recorded this song, prefaced with a number of partial variations, on By Popular Demand, Vol 1
  • 1993 - Mary O'Hara, Irish singer and harpist recorded it on her Song for Ireland CD on the Shanachie label (1993)
  • 1992 - Nana Mouskouri recorded Danny Boy on her Songs Of The British Isles album
  • 1991 - My Friend The Chocolate Cake recorded a chamber pop version for their 1991 album My Friend The Chocolate Cake (re-released 1995)
  • 1991 - The Swingle Singers recorded the song for their album of folk songs, Around the World.
  • 1990 - Carly Simon recorded it for her album My Romance
  • 1989 - Kate Smith sang a version of it on The Irish Album reissued by RCA in 1989.
  • 1989 - Helen Gallagher performed the song as her character Maeve Ryan, on the final episode of the ABC-TV soap opera Ryan's Hope on January 13
  • 1988 - Brush Shiels, Irish rocker, performs a bluesy version on his album Fields Of Athenry
  • 1987 - Tony Bennett recorded this, released on his Columbia CD, Jazz, with Stan Getz on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums
  • 1985 - The King's Singers, a cappella version on the album Watching the White Wheat
  • 1978-1991 - The Kelly Family recorded Danny Boy as their first single in 1978. In 1991, it was included on their album Honest Workers
  • 1976 - Elvis Presley recorded the song in 1976 during the Jungle Room Sessions at Graceland in Memphis, TN. The master take is available on From Elvis Presley Boulevard. Other takes are available on The Jungle Room Sessions and Platinum. The song was noted as one of his favourite songs and was played at his funeral. Elvis said it was his father Vernon's favourite song. A Live version is available on the live album Tucson '76.
  • 1975 - Joan Baez recorded the song as part of a medley, pairing it with Stephen Foster's I Dream of Jeannie, on her album Diamonds & Rust
  • 1974 - Les Humphries Singers recorded song on the album Kansas City in with John Lawton on vocals
  • 1972 - Roy Orbison on his 1972 Memphis album.
  • 1969-1999 - Tom Jones sang it on the first episode of his weekly television show and recorded it on Las Vegas to London, the Best of Tom Jones Live CD on the Spectrum label (1999).
  • 1969 - Cher recorded it on her Jackson Highway album
  • 1967 - Ray Price had a top 10 hit on Billboard magazine's Hot Country Singles chart in 1967, and is an example of his Nashville Sound output
  • 1965 - The Bachelors recorded the song on their album More great song hits
  • 1965 - Johnny Cash's first version of this song was recorded for Orange Blossom Special, which was remastered and reissued in 2002.
  • 1964 - Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles recorded the song and released it in 1964. The song reached number seventy-six on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • 1964 - The Seekers recorded it on their first UK album The Seekers (also known as Roving with The Seekers)
  • 1964 - Joe Feeney, Irish tenor, performed the song numerous times, both on The Lawrence Welk Show
  • 1962 - Connie Francis on her Connie Francis Sings Irish Favorites album
  • 1962 - Maureen O'Hara Irish actress recorded it on her Maureen O'Hara Sings her Favourite Irish Songs album (1962, Columbia Records)
  • 1960-61 - Jim Reeves recorded it twice, A slow version for the Album Tall Tales and Short Tempers in 1960 and in 1961 he recorded a version that was released as a single. He always closed his shows with the song.
  • 1960 - Link Wray
  • 1959 - Harry Belafonte recorded live at Carnegie Hall.
  • 1959 - Conway Twitty recorded a rockabilly version in 1959 that reached No. 10 on the US Pop charts.
  • 1959 - Sleepy Matsumoto instrumental saxophone rearrangement.
  • 1958 - Sam Cooke recorded it on his self-titled album
  • 1958 - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf recording at Abbey Road Studios, London, England
  • 1950 - Al Hibbler recorded it for Atlantic Records
  • 1940-1962 - Judy Garland recorded it several times, once for her film Little Nellie Kelly (1940) MGM Records and again for her Miss Showbusiness album (1955, Capitol Records) and sang it live during her concerts in Dublin's famed Theatre Royal and at her now legendary New York Palace Theatre show. Her last recording of the song was in 1962 in London, for The London Sessions album again on the (Capitol) label.
  • 1939 - Gracie Fields sung this on the Soundtrack to her 1939 film 'Shipyard Sally,' and recorded the song once in 1939 and in 1978 for Jess Yates's TV show 'Stars on Sunday'
  • 1939 - Glenn Miller performed it as part of the Carnegie Hall concert on October 6. Miller's was the last of four bands performing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ASCAP. The performance was recorded and released on the RCA Victor label.

In popular culture


Popular music

  • On The Beatles' 1970 final album Let It Be, at the end of the track "One After 909", John Lennon sings the (uncredited) opening of the song with altered, and unclear, lyrics.
  • In his faustian 1994 song "The Man Who Wrote Danny Boy", Joe Jackson implies that the author of "Danny Boy" created an immortal "perfect refrain".
  • Danny Boy is a rapper in the American hip hop group House of Pain. Track 9 of their debut album, Fine Malt Lyrics, is titled "Danny Boy" which ends with the lyrics and tune of the traditional song.[citation needed]


  • Is sung by Carmine Ragusa (Eddie Mekka) on a 1978 episode of Laverne & Shirley. It occurs at the end of Season 3's Episode #15 ("The Slow Child"), during a St. Patrick's Day party.
  • Ray Carling sings this with Shaz Granger in episode 5 of the third series of Ashes to Ashes at a police fundraising gala. According to DI Bevan, he also used to regularly sing this in pubs.
  • Danny Boy was the theme song for the long running television show The Danny Thomas Show, also known as Make Room For Daddy, from 1953 to 1964.[5]
  • Sung by Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber) many times in the show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in the beginning of several of the scenes when he encounters Danny Tripp throughout the series. Rudolph also once sings the lead line as "Matty Boy" when he encounters Danny's partner, Matt Albie.
  • A recurring theme throughout The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, appearing as a jazz song and a campfire song, among others.
  • Sung by James on Spin City in front of the Mayor and Janelle
  • In the Torchwood episode Random Shoes, Eugene's father sings the song at Eugene's funeral.
  • The song is a favorite of the character Bernard O'Toole, from Tekkaman Blade. The old soldier often sung it to himself, and D-Boy's support mecha, Pegas, ended up recording the song in his memory banks during his first appearance.
  • In the first series of Round the Twist, characters could hear unseen ghosts on clarinet, saxophone and violin perform part of the song in each episode. Eventually, a choral rendition by the entire cast in the series' climax brought forth the ghosts to save the show's lighthouse from being destroyed.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Pharaoh to Remember", Zoidberg sings this song at Bender's fake funeral, in order to "express his sorrow". Bender is angered by this because Zoidberg is singing a song about "some guy named Danny" instead of him.
  • Sung by a moat monster in an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, where Courage must defend a medicinal tree from getting cut down by Eustace.
  • In the OP for Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files, 'Danny Boy' is referenced in the lyrics.
  • Sung on the Frasier episode where Duke's bar was being closed.
  • The Simpsons Barney sings 'Danny Boy' during the episode Mommie Beerest where Moe's tavern is closed down.
  • Pig sings 'Danny Boy' many times during an episode of Barnyard in which he is to take part in a live Televised talent show
  • On The Muppet Show Beaker, Animal and The Swedish Chef (try) to sing it. The Chef sings in his usual mock-Swedish gibberish; Animal can only remember the first three words; Beaker performs the melody well, but in his usual "mee-mee-mee" speech.
  • In the fifth season of Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width (1970) Patrick's friends sing Danny Boy to him at his farewell do before his return to Ireland.
  • In the fourth season of "30 Rock" (2009) Danny Baker (played by Cheyenne Jackson) sings several lines of 'Danny Boy' to Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), but is interrupted when she gets a nose bleed. It is also briefly sung in season two's episode "Sandwich Day" by Jenna, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander), Lutz (John Lutz) and a group of teamsters whom are all drunk.
  • In Episode 49 of MacGyver, titled "Fire and Ice" a man is singing "Danny Boy" in the men's shower room.
  • In an episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny plays part of the song on a bagpipe to make a dragon cry.
  • In an episode of "Touched by an Angel" the angel Monica, played by actress Roma Downey becomes envious of a child prodigy singer, embittered that God had not actually given her the gift of "the voice of an Angel" drinks half a beer, becomes unruly drunk, and (tries to) sing the song in Karaoke. So poorly that it causes a fight and her supervising Angel has to bail her out of jail.
  • Sung by Helen Gallagher in the final scene of the ABC soap opera, Ryan's Hope.


  • Sung by boxer Barry McGuigan's father, Pat, before many of Barry's bouts.
  • In the video game Bioshock, the song starts playing when entering Frank Fontaine's apartment in Mercury Suites. The recording was sung by Mario Lanza.
  • In the video game Grand Theft Auto IV, Packie, an Irish American character, sings "Oh Danny Boy" while drunk.
  • The 27th Lancers Drum & Bugle Corps from Revere, MA used "Danny Boy" as their closing number for many years, and many consider it their signature number.
  • In DC Comics series 52, it was sung by The Question as he is dying from his cancer on his hospital bed.


  • McCourt, Malachy (30 Mar 2005 (Reprint)). Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad. New American Library. pp. 128. ISBN 0-451-20806-4. 

Catholic funeral controversy

"Danny Boy" enjoys some popularity as a funeral song. However, because it is not liturgical, its suitability for funerals is sometimes contested.[6]


  1. ^ "Fred Weatherly's own description of writing Danny Boy". Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  2. ^ "The true meaning of Danny Boy". Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  3. ^ [1] 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.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Classic TV, ISBN 0-7935-4762-8, 1996, published by Hal Leonard Corporation
  6. ^ No blyine (2001-08-10), "'Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. 37 (36):11

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Danny_Boy". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

Our dream: to make the world's treasury of classical music accessible for everyone.
Help us with donations or by making music available!

Contact us     Privacy policy     Language:

Looking for classical mp3 downloads? We index the free-to-download classical mp3s on the internet.
©2016 Classic Cat - the classical mp3 and video directory. All rights reserved.

privacy policy