Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pies 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 ye 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 he come, and all the flow’rs 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, through soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
We’ve all heard it at one time…this beautiful ballad sung in both mourning and celebration. It’s been recorded hundreds of times by hundreds of artists…and chances are, no matter who is singing it, it never fails to raise a lump in the throat of all the listeners.
While “Danny Boy” is known the world over as the ultimate Irish song, the history of this beloved ballad is anything but rooted in Ireland. In his fascinating little volume Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad, Malachy McCourt (brother of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis author Frank McCourt) explores the orgins of “Danny Boy”, going back to the lyricist, the possible meaning of the song, and the impact of “Danny Boy” in modern culture.
Written in the wake of September 11th, this book is especially meaningful to those who have lost family or loved ones in the armed forces. There is a beautiful dedication at the end of the book to those who lost their lives when the Twin Towers fell, including a full list of every member of the NYPD, New York Fire Department, and participating squads from New Jersey.
If you’re a fan of “Danny Boy”, I highly suggest reading this little book (it’s only 88 pages). Read the lyrics before the book and then after and see if your opinion or understanding of the song has changed at all. It certainly changed mine.
NEXT WEEK: We’re heading behind the scenes of restaurant kitchens…and it’s not pretty.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.