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"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.


"Danny Boy" was written by the English lawyer and lyricist Frederick Weatherly in 1910. Although the lyrics were originally written for a different tune, Weatherly's sister modified them to fit "Londonderry Air" in 1913 when Weatherly sent her copy. 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.

"Danny Boy" was intended as a message from a woman to a man, and Weatherly provided the alternative "Eily dear" for male singers in his 1918 authorised lyrics. However, the song is actually sung by men as much as, or possibly more than, women. 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. Some interpret it differently, such a dying father speaking to his leaving Danny.

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


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


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

Tis you, 'tis 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

Tis 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, tho' soft you tread above me

And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be

For ye shall 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.

In popular culture


Popular music

  • On The Beatles' 1970 final album Let It Be, at the end of the track "One After 909", Paul McCartney 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Musician Joe Jackson's song "The Man who Wrote Danny Boy" was released on his 1994 album Night Music. It is about a composer who sells his soul in order to write a melody as memorable and eternal as Danny Boy. He likens the genius of the song's immortality to that of Shakespeare and Bach.
  • Sung by boxer Barry McGuigan's father, Pat, before many of Barry's bouts.
  • Battle for Danny Boy, is an Iraqi insurgent checkpoint ambush against the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment where bayoneting was used for the first time since the Falklands war.
  • In the video game Bioshock, the song starts playing when entering 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.



  1. No blyine (2001-08-10), "'Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. 37 (36):11
  2. Classic TV, ISBN 0-7935-4762-8, 1996, published by Hal Leonard Corporation

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