O Danny Boy


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Written by Frederic Weatherly in 1910, “Danny Boy” is a ballad set to the original Irish tune titled, “Londonderry Air.” Danny Boy is considered by many as a signature Irish song and is often heard during Irish funerals. Despite it’s sad lyrics and soft music, Danny Boy is sometimes considered an Irish drinking song and can be heard in pubs and at other events.

The meaning of Danny Boy is not absolutely clear, but I believe the song speaks to longing to be together. Danny is leaving in the Fall and the singer anticipates his return. Whether he returns in the Summer or during the Winter snow, the singer will be waiting in “sunshine or in shadow.” Danny could be a son going off to war, a father or a husband. The ambiguous relationship to Danny is what, in my opinion, broadens the possibilities of this great Irish song.

Lyrics: O Danny Boy – Irish Drinking Song

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 flow’rs are dying
‘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.

And if you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead as well may be
I pray you’ll 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 warm and sweeter be
And then you’ll kneel and whisper that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

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