Honour at last for the English diva who made Danny Boy a world favourite

Honour at last for the English diva who made Danny Boy a world favourite


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2012

A plaque has been affixed to the Bristol home of Elsie Griffin, the opera singer who made ‘Danny Boy’ one of the most beloved songs of the First World War.

Written in 1910 by a US-based English lawyer, Frederick Weatherly, and recorded in 1915 by one of Mahler’s singers, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, ‘Danny Boy’ was then given by Weatherly to Griffin, who made it universally popular. Over time, it became an anthem for Irish expatriates.

We can’t find a recording of Griffin singing it; make do with the lovely Deanna Durbin.

Griffin went on to become a stalwart of English opera between the two wars. She died, aged 94, in 1989.

Here she is singing Yum-Yum in a 1926 Mikado.


  • Michael says:

    And a stalwart of D’Oyly Carte!

  • Jan says:

    Thank you for posting Deanna. Beautiful song, did not know is was from 1915. Beautiful voice of Deanna Durbin.
    I’am an admirer of Deanna since my youth in the forties.
    With her voice and movies was she a source of light in the dark days of WWII.It is said that Anna Frank a countrywoman of mine, had a picture of Deanna on her wall in her hiding place.

  • David Conway says:

    Ahem!! Percy Grainger published his arrangement of the ‘Irish Tune from County Derry’ in 1911. Fred Weatherley wrote his version in 1912 (not 1910) – see here – http://www.standingstones.com/danny3.html#grainger- and may indeed have swiped Grainger’s version for the purpose. Here is Grainger’s own arrangement for choir on YouTube –