Danny Boy The Beloved Irish Ballad

Malachy McCourt unravels the mystery of perhaps the most popular Irish song ever in "Danny Boy: The Beloved Irish Ballad." Who is Danny? Why are the pipes calling? And why did Catholic dioceses ban the beloved ballad last summer? It's all here.

Consider, for example, this potentially blasphemous fact: The famed lyrics to Danny Boy are not Irish and they were not written by an Irishman, and no matter how vehemently the Irish claim authorship to the song, the fact remains that "Danny Boy" was written by, of all people, a British lawyer, McCourt writes.

In the hands of the Limerick-born author-actor-raconteur, the musical story of "Danny Boy" has its roots way back in the terrible 1690 siege of Derry in Northern Ireland, and its colorful cast of characters includes Charles Dickens son and a Jack the Ripper suspect.

He enlists the assistance of poet Seamus Heaney, actress Roma Downey, and even his Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Frank, to explain Danny Boy's enduring appeal. ($18.95, 141 pages, Running Press)

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