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BellaOnline's Folk Music Editor

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Oh Danny Boy

Guest Author - Chris Curtis

Like many folk songs, the origins of this classic Irish embraced tune are clouded and mysterious. The song is widely cherished as an Irish standard but its roots can only be partly traced to Ireland. The lyrics are credited to Fred E. Weatherly, an English lawyer who reportedly had never been to Ireland. The melody is, however, is traced to Irish folklore, and identified as Londonderry Aire. What's even more interesting; the first recording of this song can be traced to Australia found on Country Gardens by Percy Grainger.

Weatherly was a prolific song writer having more than 1,500 songs attributed to him. The tune Londonderry Aire wasn't initially matched to Weatherly's lyrics. His original melody was ineffective and the popularity of the song withered. How Weatherly's lyrics became married to the now famous Irish aire is also clouded. In Malachy McCourt's book Danny Boy, The Legend of the Beloved Irish Melody, he suggests that Jane Ross of Derry, Ireland sang it to a tune she heard played by a blind Irish fiddler. Other sources suggest that Weatherly was given the tune by his sister-in-law, Margaret Weatherley, after she had heard the beautifully haunting aire played by Australian mine workers in Colorado mining camp.

The song has been featured in as many as 20 films and recorded by more than 100 artists.

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;
'Tis ye, 'tis ye 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;
'Til I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow;
Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And when ye come and all the flowers 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, 'though soft ye tread around me,
And all my grave shall linger sweeter be,
Then ye will bend and tell me that ye love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until ye come to me.


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Content copyright © 2013 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Curtis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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