Ann Applegarth's Irish Soda Bread

The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

O Danny Boy

The song O Danny Boy is well known around the world sung by famous vocalists as well as around the family piano-or family guitar in the Blind Pig house. Folks are often reminded of the old ballad during the week of Saint Patrick's Day.

I researched O Danny Boy and 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 discovered the tune and passed it along to 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
  • To read more about the fascinating story behind the song check out this page

I believe O Danny Boy appeals to the masses because the song evokes the strong emotion of longing for someone you love and miss-a truly common theme of mankind.

For me personally, the song transcends location. If I replace the word glen with holler I would swear the words were written about my mountains and the high graveyards that rest on many of them.

In the same way, you could substitute the descriptive words with hills, dunes, or whatever topography you live near and feel as though it was written just down the road from you.

For this Pickin' & Grinnin' In The Kitchen Spot O Danny Boy. I want to encourage you to watch the video. Paul sings the original 2nd verse which most performers leave out. No matter how many times I hear the 2nd verse I get chills...every last time. 

2nd verse:

But when you come and all the flowers are dying If I am dead as then I well may be You'll come and find the place where I am lying And kneel and say a prayer there for me And I will hear though soft you tread above me And all my grave will warmer sweeter be For you will bend and whisper that you love me And I shall rest in Peace until you come to me


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Absolutely beautiful!!!! Paul did an outstanding job and Pap just added more sweetness.!!!

Such a lovely rendition!

I used the word pipe a few days ago. An artist who also plays music volunteers at the Art Center in the room next to the Holland Theatre office where I volunteer.

I asked him if he brought his pipe as he sometimes plays if things are slow at the Art Center. He was confused, but he eventually knew I was talking about the musical instrument he plays, it is a large wooden recorder. School children are often taught to play a plastic recorder as part of the music curriculum. His recorder and his skill make lovely music. I still will call it a pipe.

Really enjoyed the song! Danny Boy has long been one if my favorites. The youngins were a bit distracted by the tennis match though. Pap on the other hand paid no attention. He was engrossed in the music. That's the mark of a true musician!

Have you heard of The Price Sisters. Not only are they sisters, they are twins, too. They play mandolin and fiddle. You know, there is something special about sisters making music together but when they are twins, its extraordinary! I like to listening to The Pressley Girls, The Church Sisters and now The Price Sisters.
Life is good!

PS: We got a foot of snow last night. I measured it with a ruler. I had to lay it down to get it to read anything though.

I enjoy Irish music so much. This was very pretty. O Danny Boy is sad, mournful, and always clutches my heart strings when I hear it. Love the video.

That was beautiful.

Have listened several times thru and this is just beautiful. Thank you!

Tipper-Goodness knows I'm no expert on anything associated with music, but to these ears Pap's high, keen voice was made to sing harmony on this song. It's always been among my favorites, and this is a lovely version despite the decided distraction of the TV tennis in the background.

Jim Casada

Danny Boy is a song I heard and loved since my childhood. I never paid much attention to or knew just exactly what the second verse said. They sure did well on that one!

I had 2 1/2" this morning at my house, but I went back to sleep and didn't get any Snowcream. Me and my dog Whisky watched it just pour about 10:30 last night. It looked like 50Cent pieces a falling from the sky. ...Ken

There is such a poignancy to this beautiful melody. One of the most beautiful instrumental versions (fiddle) is played by my friend Eugene O'Donnell. It's on You Tube.

Paul does a great job and Pap's tenor takes it away.


Yesterday and this morning I was trying to help a distant cousin of my wife identify the cemetery where another distant cousin lies. And then you post the song with the words of that second verse.

For a great many of the folks who came to America there would have been no expectation of meeting again in this life. It must have been an especially hard choice to make and even more so if it parted sweethearts.

Very well done. I'm surprised Paul could focus on music with Federer/Nadal tennis match on TV.

This song never fails to make me cry like a baby- it was my father's favorite song, and is mine to sing for him now.
Thank you for this moment on this comd, snowy morning. Now I am warm inside my heart.

This song has always been a favorite. Being of Scots/Irish descent, it has held a special place in my heart and just thinking about it brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eyes. I've always thought of it as being a tune sung by a parent for their son away at war. Perhaps it's only my interpretation, but that's the chord it's always struck for me.

I really liked that second verse.

I never really paid any attention to that verse.
How beautiful.

Beautiful! It touched my heart to see and hear Pap.

Good job! Powerful song. I loved that tune even when I was a boy. It chills me too.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)