The Londonderry Air originated from County Londonderry, Ireland. It is also well known as the melody to Danny Boy (1913) with lyrics not by an Irishman but Fred Weatherley – an English barrister who never set foot on Irish soil! It is, however, an anthem strongly associated with Ireland and Irish communities around the world, particularly in America and Canada.
With its haunting melody and heartfelt words, Danny Boy is a song about love and loss: a lament for those missing home and each other – someday to be reunited. The song’s resonance lead to its popularity becoming considerably enhanced by the outbreak of World War One as millions bade farewell to their loved ones. The theme of longing also struck a chord with many emigrants who headed to America in search of new opportunities and to escape the famine and political unrest in Ireland.