The lyrics, set to a traditional Irish tune, were by Fred Weatherly, a lawyer from Portishead, near Bristol. Now Fred's great-nephew Phil Weatherly has enlisted a Bristol band to record a new musical arrangement of the ballad. The song, released on St Patrick's Day, will be performed by Bristol-based band Carmina. Fred Weatherly was a barrister whose hobby of writing lyrics and poems led to at least 1,500 songs being published, including the First World War classic Roses of Picardy and the recently-revived wartime recruitment song Bravo Bristol.
Although regarded widely as an Irish anthem, Danny Boy's West Country origins are little-known and something of a mystery. "As far as I know Fred Weatherly had never been to Ireland," Phil Weatherly told BBC Inside Out West. "I don't think he had any strong feelings particularly one way or the other about what was happening in Ireland at the time - that doesn't come through in any of his writings.
'Beauty and simplicity'
"In 1910 he had a set of words that he had written for another tune then his sister-in-law from America introduced him to the traditional music of The Londonderry Air and he saw the words would fit rather nicely." It is believed Fred Weatherly wrote Danny Boy while living at Combe Down, in Bath. The song was first published in 1913 and has resulted in hundreds of recorded versions by acts ranging from Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, The Pogues and Johnny Cash to The Muppets. This year the centenary is being celebrated with a range of events, including a massive open-air performance in June as part of the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013.
Pippa Marland, Carmina's singer, said they were delighted to have been asked by the Weatherly family to arrange and record the new version of Danny Boy. She said: "We have always loved this song for its beauty and simplicity - the power of the melody and the mysterious and heart-breaking quality of the lyrics. "It encapsulates the wonderfully romantic notion of a love which reaches beyond the grave." A film about Danny Boy is featured on Inside Out West on BBC One in the West region at 19:30 GMT on Monday. Source: BBC