Danny Boy is on of the most popular and famous Irish songs of all time. It's history goes back to 1910.
The lyrics were written by an Englishman named Fred Weatherly, a lawyar who wrote songs in his spare time. He was very popular in his days and wrote about 1500 songs during his carreer, including Roses from Picardy.As he wrote the song, he called Danny Boy, he had high hopes for it. Unfortunately it turned out to be a complete flop. Weatherly realised that the lyrics were good, but the melody was not strong enough. But whatever he did, he couldn't find a tune that was suitable. So he gave up and concentrated on his other songs.
In the meantime his brother and sister-in-law, Margaret, emigrated to the United States and settled in Colorado.
One day in 1913, Margaret came across a group of Irish immigrant workers, entertaining themselves while playing music from their homeland. She was enchanted by a particullar melody they played and asked the name of it: it was called "Londonderry Air", an old harp tune from Northern Ireland. As the musicians replayed the song a couple of times, Margaret was able to write down the notes. She sent them to her brother-in-law in England, Fred, as she knew he was always looking for good melodies.
As soon as Fred played the first notes, he knew the tune was very special and very quickly he also realised the melody would fit the lyrics he had written three years earlier, Danny Boy. He would hardly have to make some changes.
The tune was published in 1913 and it caught on immediately. It was picked up by most of the major artists, it remained popular throughout the rest of the twentieth century and was recorded by several of the top performers of every generation, such as Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Elvis Presley.
Danny Boy is one of the most recorded songs of all time and this thanks to the meeting of Margaret with the Irish workers.
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 flowers are dying
'tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come you back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'tis I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And 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 dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I simply sleep in peace until you come to me.