Frank Patterson, the late Irish tenor, was born on this day, October 5, 1958, in Clonmel, County Tipperary.

During his career, Patterson sang for the Pope but he likely never realized he also sang for North Korean political leaders.

State officials in North Korea learned to sing Danny Boy in English from a recording of Danny Boy sung by Patterson, which was provided by an Irish diplomat.

The diplomat, who was not named, used a Dublin auction house to sell off numerous unwanted gifts he collected during his career in 2012,

The Irish Times reported at the time that the Irish diplomat was in Pyongyang, the capital of the communist state, on a ‘mission impossible’ to promote tourism.

He received a gift from his hosts of cutlery cased in a drab, faux-leather plastic, and cardboard box and contains 12 settings.

In return, the Irish diplomat allegedly "delighted" his hosts in North Korea by giving them "two cassette tapes of tenor Frank Patterson."

The tapes resulted in the North Korean officials learning to sing Danny Boy in English.

The Irish Times reported that gift-giving is culturally important in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which boasts a museum containing presents given by international leaders to the state’s founding father Kim Il-sung, and his successor and son, the late Kim Jong-il.

The Irish diplomat visited the International Friendship Exhibition which he reported is housed in “an underground building about as big as the Vatican."

He saw “a whole train – a gift from Stalin" as well as a cabinet full of Waterford Crystal sent by Irish socialists.

You can listen to Frank Patterson sing "Danny Boy" here:

* Originally published in 2016. Updated in October 2022.