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|According to some legends, the tune was possibly composed by Rory Dall O'Cahan in the 1600's. The tune has been set to lyrics several times.
The most complete information as to Danny Boy's origins are by Michael Robin, at The Danny Boy Trivia Collection.
These words were written by Thomas Moore (1770-1852). In 1798 two of Moore's friends participated in the rebellion of the United Irishmen. One died in prison, another was wounded and another later hung. He refused to testify against them. Moore also wrote the lyrics to The Minstrel Boy, which has a similar theme.
For a complete list of tunes by Thomas Moore at this site see the Contemplator's Short Biography of Thomas Moore.
My gentle harp, once more I waken
The sweetness of thy slumb'ring strain
In tears our last farewell was taken
And nos in tears we meet again.
Yet even then, while peace was singing,
Her halcyon song o'er land and sea,
Though joy and hope to others bringing,
She only brought new tears to thee.
Then who can ask for notes of pleasure,
My drooping harp, from chords like thine?
Alas, the lark's gay morning measure
As ill would suit the swan's decline.
Or how shall I, who love, who bless thee,
Invoke thy breath for freedom's strains,
When e'en the wreaths in which I dress thee,
Are sadly mixed, half flours, half chains.
Fireside Book of Folk Songs
See Bibliography for full information.