Heritage Music

O Danny Boy

O Danny Boy is one of the most well known and beloved Irish Songs. It’s what folks refer to as an “old standard”. O Danny Boy is popular world wide-sung by famous vocalists as well as around the family piano-or guitar in my case.

As I researched the old song I discovered some interesting facts:

  • While the tune is indeed Irish-the words were written in England
  • There are varying opinions about the origin of the tune-some believe its as old as the 1600s
  • In about 1855 Jane Ross rediscovered the tune and passed it along too a collector of old Irish music, at that time the tune was called Londonderry Air
  • Many songwriters tried to add words to the music but nothing seemed to fit the mournful tune
  • In the 1800s the tune made it to America along with Irish immigrants
  • About 1912 a Mrs. Weatherly heard the song in Colorado, she sent the music back to England to her brother-n-law who was a songwriter
  • Mr. Weatherly had already penned the words to Danny Boy but had never found the right melody-now he had it
  • When Mr. Weatherly put the old Irish tune to his words a hit that would last through the ages was created

I believe O Danny Boy appeals to so many people because the song evokes a strong emotion of longing for someone you love and miss-a truly common theme of mankind. For me personally, the song also transcends location-if I replace the word glen with hollow-I would swear someone from Appalachia wrote the words. In the same way, you could substitute glen and mountainside with hills, dunes, or whatever topography you live near-and feel as though it was written just down the road from you. When I think of the longevity of the song, it seems fitting that O Danny Boy started in Ireland hundreds of years ago, came to America, went to England and then on to the world.

For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot O Danny Boy. I want to encourage you to watch the video-Paul sings the original 2nd verse- most performers leave it out. No matter how many times I hear the 2nd verse-I still get chills.

Hope you enjoyed the song-and the history.


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  • Reply
    November 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Oh Tipper Paul does a great job with this song. My grandfather loved this and it was sang at his funeral. It can still make me cry.

  • Reply
    The Tile Lady-Marie
    November 11, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    I enjoyed them both VERY much! Thanks for all that great info…and the song is so beautiful, and was so beautifully sung. It’s so appropriate for Veteran’s Day, too.

  • Reply
    City Mouse/Country House
    November 10, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I think Danny Boy is on every single Celtic CD I have ever purchased. It’s a great tune, and a true perennial And this is a great version!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2008 at 10:31 am

    That was truly wonderful!

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    November 10, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Awesome video! Paul does a wonderful job on that song.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Even though part of my heritage is Irish, I don’t know this song yet. I love the way Paul is singing it. He’s got a very nice voice. I think the TV was distracting the younger boys though! Ha Ha!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Just beautiful. I have to be honest here and say this has never been my favorite song. In fact, I have disliked it at times because I thought it was overdone. But when I saw tyour post, I knew it would be the pickin’ and grinnin’ song, and I somehow knew I would like it. I did!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    November 9, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Morning Tipper! Very interesting
    history about O Danny Boy! Noticed
    that whenever your father and Paul
    play they are so focused and in
    sync every note of the song.
    Lovely! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! Petra :))

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    November 8, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Danny Boy has been a favorite for years! Thanks for sharing the song, and the facts 🙂

  • Reply
    Razor Family Farms
    November 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I love that song! The Three Tenors perform a particularly lovely version that I have on cd which I play regularly. It’s so beautiful!
    Love this post! Who tried the soap first?

  • Reply
    November 8, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I love this song, and your post is a great reminder that even the purest of things are hybrid–that Irish tune has a lot of other influences that make it what it is!
    The longing in the song is palpable.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I used to play Danny Boy on the piano(by ear). I will have to try it and see if I can still play it.
    Love the pictures. You know this slow dialup, but I will try to come back to listen to the music. I sure would like to hear it.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Being an Irish gal, this is one of my favorite old time songs. My Dad often sang it as he was going about his chores. Thanks for the memories. Enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2008 at 11:23 am

    i love that song – one of my favorites, thanks for the history and the song.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    November 8, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Those images are just beautiful…the green…wow!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    November 8, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Tipper, thank you so much!! Pap and Paul and the boys, thank you!!! What a lovely and precious surprise to find this here. I can see why this is my mom’s favorite song and why it’s appealing to folks the world over. I love the history you shared. It’s very late here and my mom is in bed, so tomorrow I’ll have her listen.
    Blessings to you, my dear friend,

  • Reply
    November 8, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Love Danny Boy! And I always enjoy the music and history!
    (I’m guessing the tennis match in the background was added entertainment? haha!)

  • Reply
    November 7, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Cool music! I love pics of the wall also…Hadrian’s wall I think? Anyhow, cool pickin’ ‘n’ grinnin’!

  • Reply
    Joan J
    November 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    November 7, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I love this song. I only have one grandmother who was Irish, and all I know about her is that her name was Cisley. She married Edward Burns, who was an Ulster Scot (Scotsman who moved to the Ulster region of Ireland for free land). The Ulster Scots became the ruling class over the native Irish, so I’m sure there is a good story there about how an Ulster Scot married a a lowly Irish girl. They came to America around 1770 (and were the last set of grandparents to come to this country). The rest of my people came to the colonies a lot earlier.
    I guess that’s why Danny Boy must resonate with me…it’s my Irishness. I love Ray Price’s version.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve always loved Irish songs and ballads. Thank you for sharing O Danny Boy with us!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 7, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Tipper: What a neat rendition of a classic. I loved your story of the origin of the song. Send my best wishes to Paul and Pap for a great duet on the great song. I’m finishing a post for later tonight and have honored you twice. I am always twice blest when I visit your site.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    November 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing these sessions with us. I really enjoy them.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 7, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Great song and thanks for the history. I really appreciate your insight—longing is a universal emotion!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    November 7, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    This post really impressed me. Knew the song, but never really knew its history. Tipper you did a great job presenting this and the pictures you used made me fell like I was there.
    I got chills hearing the second verse too, and was totally in awe to hear Paul hit those high notes without a waiver in pitch. Wow!
    This was a great post and I thank you for sharing it with us. xxoo

  • Reply
    November 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Tipper, I really enjoyed Paul and Pap’s rendition of an old classic.
    And I had no idea there was so much history behind that song.
    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Reply
    November 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks Tipper! Have a fantastic weekend!

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