Virtuoso flautist Sir James Galway is the star of a new Tourism Ireland video that features a beautiful rendition of one of the world’s most enchanting tunes.
In the video, available here, which is aimed at encouraging visitors to Northern Ireland as soon as it is safe to travel again, the Belfast-born musician says that the Londonderry Air, or Danny Boy, is the most beautiful tune he knows.
Sir James says “I’d like to play for you a tune that I used to play on the streets of Belfast where I grew up,” and he invites viewers to “come and visit us one time in Northern Ireland and we will play it for you”.
Some of the most iconic locations of Northern Ireland’s famous Causeway Coastal Route form the backdrop to his spine-tingling performance, including places like Titanic Belfast, Mussenden Temple, the Dark Hedges, Derry~Londonderry’s city walls and Peace Bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Other attractions around Ireland are also featured, including the six-century monastic site of Glendalough, the ancient Hill of Tara and the Cliffs of Moher on the Wild Atlantic Way.
As one of the world’s most popular and recognisable tunes, Danny Boy is one of those rare melodies that taps into the emotions and still feels utterly timeless.
The tune was first noted down on a market day in 1851 in Limavady, County Londonderry, by a local schoolteacher Miss Jane Ross. She heard the melody being played by blind fiddler Jimmy McCurry.
The air was published in 1855 with the title ‘Londonderry Air’, the famous lyrics being added nearly 60 years later by Jane’s brother-in-law, Fred Weatherly, who lived in England. A sculpture in Limavady, which is also on the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route, commemorates the town’s connection to the tune.
Probably the most played Irish air in history, such is the song’s appeal it has been recorded by everyone from Eric Clapton, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Roy Orbison to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, The Pogues and Sinéad O’Connor.
Nelson Mandela said Danny Boy liberated him beyond his prison bars and Elvis’ parents said he sang Danny Boy in his bedroom when he was a boy.
Few, however, can play the air as sweetly as Sr James Galway, the world’s first flute superstar.
The video is part of Tourism Ireland’s #FillYourHeartWithIreland (#FYHWI) online initiative. At a time when international visitors cannot travel to Ireland, the campaign is sharing inspirational content about the island of Ireland with its millions of fans and followers on social media.