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Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad
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Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad

3.03  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In this delightful volume, Malachy McCourt takes readers on a surprising and emotional journey, centered around one of the most enduring songs in history. Exploring the mysteries of 'Danny Boy,' a song with roots in distant centuries, this tribute features commentary from such luminaries as Seamus Heaney, Liam Neeson, and the author's brother, Frank McCourt.

Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by NAL Trade (first published December 27th 2001)
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Oct 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and only time I had an opportunity to perform "Danny Boy" was in the basement of a Catholic church for a group of seniors who were celebrating St. Patrick's Day and wanted a touch of Irish in the program. At the exact moment I arrived at the line, "And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me," there was a thunderous stampede heard overhead: the school had just released its students for the day.

Which has (or perhaps should have) almost nothing to do with this review, although that
Dan Hickey
As a Daniel and an Irishman, I feel a deep connection to the song, but there just isn't a lot of information about its genesis. So McCourt uses a lot of filler to draw things out and the book meanders around Irish history for a bit. This subject probably would have been better suited for an article than a book. ...more
The Celtic Rebel (Richard)
I have always loved the song Danny Boy and used to enjoy the wonderful performances of Malachy McCourt on several of my favorite soap operas. When I ran across this book at a flea market several years ago, I had to take it home. I really enjoyed it and read it over several times. I loved the information about the song that McCourt supplied but also enjoyed the little tidbits of history he supplied.

Several years later I included the book in a care package I sent to soldiers stationed in Kuwait.
Akanksha Chattopadhyay
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
3 stars for the book which, though informative, wastes a lot of pages on trivial stuff.
+1 because it's about "Danny Boy".
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, poetry
This is a brief history of the tune, lyrics, and cultural effect of the song, "Danny Boy." Such a tale isn't all that long, so the author pads things out with a look at Irish history. Reading this book feels like hanging out with an old Irishman who meanders his way through anecdotes, wry jokes, allusions to recent politics, and flat-out diatribes -- he seems almost as angry at the Catholic diocese of LA which, while still permitting Protestant hymns (to God), banned the (romantic) (pub) (also w ...more
Allen Steele
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ireland
it was ok, History of the song, Danny Boy. How it was made, and who. I did enjoy the list of different renditions in the appendix.
Kathleen Payne
This was a light little read by Malachy McCourt, Frank McCourts brother, telling the tale of the origin of the lovely song, "Danny Boy". It tells the story of who wrote the words, where did the tune originate, and who was it written for? By the end of the book I knew about as much as I did when I started the book. We can only guess who it was written for, a mother watching her son leave for war or leaving Ireland for America? The tune, was it a blind musician playing on the streets near Derry wh ...more
Novel Destination
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Malachy McCourt tries to parse out the truth between all the legends and lore surrounding the popular ballad "Danny Boy". I confess that I was drawn to the book because it is a signed edition, I liked his previous work, and I have fond memories of a special old dear who won many karaoke contests with his rendition of the song. Finding out the lyrics were likely penned by an English barrister would have probably broke my friend's Irish heart. Much discussion about the possible meaning of the lyr ...more
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
One hundred pages seems like a lot to basically say: "We know who wrote the lyrics, but not who wrote the tune." However, McCourt's writing style is engaging and the various snippets of Irish history are interesting. The book is accompanied by a list of various recordings of the song and a somewhat random timeline, which includes the claim that the Irish were sent as slaves to the Indes. I wonder if McCourt is aware that this false equivalence of indentured servitude to chattel slavery is used b ...more
Clint Putman
The book is interesting, but most of the information within is more of an overview of the song's influence rather than any real insights. It reads like an extended essay. You can probably find just as much information with a quick web-search. ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That mine is signed by Malachy himself makes it all the sweeter.
Short book about the history of the ballad Danny Boy. Can distill the book down to one line: Danny Boy was written (the words) by an Englishman, not an Irishman.
Amy Bunn
Mar 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Our book group was reading books with Irish themes, and two days before the meeting, I realized that the group leader (me!) hadn't yet read a page. Since this book is less than 100 pages, I thought I could plow through it quickly and still keep up with my various other commitments. I'm a fast reader, and even faster when I'm interested, so I assumed it would take no more than one sitting for me to finish.

Not so! I had to force my eyes to stay on the page, and I soon found there were a million th
Melissa Conner
Oct 28, 2010 rated it liked it
We’ve all heard it at one time…this beautiful ballad sung in both mourning and celebration. It’s been recorded hundreds of times by hundreds of artists…and chances are, no matter who is singing it, it never fails to raise a lump in the throat of all the listeners.

While “Danny Boy” is known the world over as the ultimate Irish song, the history of this beloved ballad is anything but rooted in Ireland. In his fascinating little volume Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad, Malachy McCo
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Malachy McCourt is always fun to read, very conversational like a chat on a barstool. I never gave much thought to Danny Boy and where it came from so I certainly never knew it was written by an English lawyer. Throws in interesting look at Derry v Londonderry and being Catholic in Northern Ireland.
May 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
Informative, but nothing I couldn't have gotten from a well-written article, and I could have gone with a less artificially-imposed structure. Just watch this, really: ...more
Jul 14, 2016 added it
Shelves: unfinished
I don't want to rate it because I didn't pay much attention to the description before downloading it. It's possibly a delightful read if you know the song or have an interest in it. I thought it was going to be McCourt storytime. Nope. Not interested. ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love "Danny Boy" so naturally, I was interested in picking this one up. While the book itself was informative and well-meaning, the writing was a bit dull. After a little bit, it was almost difficult to remain fascinated with the story and I honestly grew bored. It was an okay book overall. ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1history, box17
A so so book on the origins of the song Danny Boy - meanders a bit, but readable.
Apr 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
A bad term paper. Too wide margins and space between the lines. Mostly other people's writings compiled here in a terrible amateurish way. Shame on the publisher for capitalizing on the McCourt name. ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
Amazing book loved how it talks about the legend of the Danny boy song which is an Irish ballad will re read at some point.
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Very interesting and informative.
Sharon Nelson
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Joan Porter
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Mar 13, 2013
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Mar 13, 2012
rated it it was ok
Nov 09, 2008
Mark Wicks
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Debra Oliva
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Mar 09, 2014
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Malachy Gerard McCourt is an Irish-American actor, writer and politician. He was the 2006 Green party candidate for governor in New York State, losing to the Democratic candidate Eliot Spitzer. He is the younger brother of Frank McCourt.

Malachy McCourt also wrote two memoirs titled A Monk Swimming and Singing my Him Song, detailing his life in Ireland and later return to the United States where de

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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