Londonderry Air


Time Signature: 4.4

Key of Tune: C

Tune Type: Air

Number of Bars: 16

Description: &

1851 was a defining year in the history of Limavady, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for it was during that year that, according to tradition, Miss Jane Ross wrote down the air she heard being played by an itinerant fiddler opposite her house in Limavady market, which eventually became known as “The Londonderry Air”. Tradition says the fiddler it was probably blind Jimmy McCurry from Myroe who regularly attended and played at the weekly market. Ross submitted the tune to music collector George Petrie, and it was then published by the Society for the Preservation and Publication of the Melodies of Ireland in the 1855 book The Ancient Music of Ireland, which Petrie edited.[1] The tune was listed as an anonymous air, with a note attributing its collection to Jane Ross of Limavady.

There is no dispute, however, regarding who penned the words Danny Boy to this tune. Although there have been over a hundred different sets of lyrics set to this melody, Danny Boy is the most enduring of them all. Many people consider the Londonderry Air and Danny Boy in the same breath, but the famous air was first noted in 1851 yet it was over 60 later before the lyrics of Danny Boy were added.

The story of the words starts in the Gold Rush in Colorado (USA) where a lady overheard some miners playing the tune. It is quite likely these men came originally from the Limavady area. She sent the tune to her brother in law, Fred Weatherly, who was a lawyer in Somerset England. Fred’s hobby was composing lyrics (in his lifetime he wrote hundreds, including Roses of Picardy) and it was Fred Weatherly who wrote Danny Boy to the melody in 1913.

Engraved by:

Transcribed/Arranged by:



Collector(s): Jane Ross, Limavady, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Source Information :

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