New BBC programme set to explore story of ‘Danny Boy’

Barrister Fred Weatherly - the man behind the ballad that would become famous as 'Danny Boy'.
Barrister Fred Weatherly - the man behind the ballad that would become famous as 'Danny Boy'.

A new television documentary is to tell the story behind a world famous ballad that has become synonymous with Derry.

‘Danny Boy: The Ballad That Bewitched The World’ will be screened on BBC One NI this Monday at 10.35pm.

It unravels the enigma behind the song’s global success and shows how the tune played a part in some of the key historical moments of the last century.

The film explains how the song - which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary - was created when Fred Weatherly, an English barrister who had never set foot in Ireland, added lyrics to an ancient Irish melody ‘The Londonderry Air’, which can be traced back to the streets of Limavady.

The royalties of ‘Danny Boy’ made Fred Weatherly a very wealthy man, but his sister-in-law, who first introduced Fred to the tune, wasn’t so fortunate.

The song went on to become an anthem for troops during World War One and its appeal remains deep.

The documentary includes vivid archive footage of world-renowned artists - including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, and Jackie Wilson - performing the tune.

The show also features contributions from Gabriel Byrne, Barry McGuigan, Roseanne Cash, Joe Jackson, Brian Kennedy and Father Brian D’Arcy, who all explain why ‘Danny Boy’ is one of the greatest songs of all time.