"Danny Boy" is a classic St. Patrick's Day Irish song but there are great versions you should turn up loud and a whole ton of awful performances you should listen to with caution.

It is the most-played song in Irish history – and maybe American too – but from a cast of thousands of singers and players we have picked the best and worst versions of “Danny Boy.”

It always should be a classic Irish song to be careful with, especially on Paddy's Day. One Irish pub in New York even went so far as to ban the song such was its disdain for the pure awful, drunken versions that come floating around on March 17.

Here are the "Danny Boy" renditions we'd give an A+ and those we would flunk. Enjoy!

The best versions of "Danny Boy:"

Frank Patterson

An Irish-born late tenor really let it fly.

Eric Clapton

This acoustic version is haunting and beautiful.

Elvis Presley

On his seventh take got it just right.

Bing Crosby

Schmaltzy but very beautifully enunciated.

Jim Reeves

Incomparable voice, lovely, quiet rendition.

The worst versions of "Danny Boy:"

Roy Orbison

Oh dear, it sounds like the chipmunks got into this guitar.

Tom Jones

It sounds like someone strangling the cat.

Michelob advertisement

This Michelob advertisement in 2003 had us scratching our heads


Goes on forever and we bet you can’t sit through it.

The Muppets

You’ll get a laugh at least!

What is your favorite or least favorite version of Danny Boy? Let us know in the comments section. 

* Originally published in 2014. Updated March 2024.