What’s the one song that unites music legends Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash and The Pogues? Oh, you don’t know? Oh, Danny Boy
The pipes, the pipes are calling
In fact Danny Boy was one of Elvis’ all time favourite songs and was reverently played at the King’s funeral. First penned in 1910, Danny Boy still casts a nostalgic spell over all who hear its sweetly melancholic tune. It’s become one of Ireland’s signature songs and the unofficial anthem of the Irish people living at home or abroad.
It was an English lawyer by the name of Frederic Weatherly who penned the famous lyrics. With the help of his sister-in-law, he then set the words to the music of a tune called Londonderry Air in 1913. From its first day, Danny Boy has been tied to Derry~Londonderry.
The song itself is a sweet lament from a parent to their son who is leaving home to travel far away. They yearn for the day when their child will return home to Ireland. Within the words are the hurt and worry of a loving parent, but also the genuine love and affection for the natural beauty of Ireland’s landscape…
”But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow”.
It’s just one of those songs that moves you, it slows the world around you down and takes you for a stroll down memory lane. It’s magic.
Three cheers for Danny Boy!
2013 is a monumental year for the City of Derry~Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Not only is it celebrating the accolade UK City of Culture, but 2013 also marks the 100-year anniversary of Danny Boy. As part of the musical extravaganza that is Music City, a special, once off performance of Danny Boy was sung by the children and adult choirs of Derry~Londonderry in a huge outdoor performance. The song rose into the Derry~Londonderry air and no doubt plucked the heartstrings of all who heard it.
Big summer in little Derry~Londonderry
It’s been a summer to remember in Derry~Londonderry, and 100 years of Danny Boy was just one of the reasons why. The icing on the cake was when TripAdvisor voted Derry~Londonderry the 4th best city in the world to visit for 2013, not to mention Lonely Planet giving the city two thumbs up.
From glen to glen and home again
It’s also fitting to think that the 100 Years of Danny Boy event was so successful in attracting thousands of people from across the globe – perhaps loved ones who have been away from home – back to the city.
The wish of the lamenting parent from the song was finally fulfilled with many, many happy reunions. It’s hard to capture in words what a song like Danny Boy means to Ireland. It unites the Irish when they’re far from home, and comforts us when we sing it with distant loved ones in mind.
The words of this beautiful song will echo for another 100 years and far beyond…Bet you’re humming it now, aren’t you!