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'Danny Boy' by Jackie Evancho: Song of the Day for March 17

Jackie Evancho
Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Actress Jackie Evancho attends the premiere of "The Company You Keep" at The Museum of Modern Art on Monday April 1, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Americans loved St. Patrick’s Day so much they snatched it while those Irish eyes weren’t looking.

Americans treat it as a day for parades, eating corn beef and cabbage, wearing something green and drinking green beer. The Irish treat it more seriously, like a religious holiday.

The Irish have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day every March 17 for more than 1,000 years. The celebration started as a Catholic holiday to remember St. Patrick, who died on March 17 in the fifth century.

St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was kidnapped as a child and brought to Ireland. He is credited with bringing Christianity to the island. Rumor has it he rid the country of snakes.

St. Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for Christianity. The three-leaf sprig represented the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Homesick Irish soldiers fighting in the Revolutionary War started a parade in New York to honor St. Patrick. Soon parades were being held every year in cities across the country.

The corn beef and cabbage tradition didn’t begin until the early 20th century; before then it was Irish bacon and cabbage. Thirteen million pints of Guinness are downed on March 17.

“Danny Boy” is one of Ireland’s anthems, but it wasn’t an Irishman who wrote it. Frederick Weatherly, an English lawyer, wrote the words in 1910. He reworked it in 1913 after replacing the music with “Londonderry Air,” a tune his sister-in-law heard in Colorado where she lived. The song was first recorded in 1915.

Our Song of the Day version is known as the Traditional, but the song has been sung by a wide range of artists from Bing Crosby to Slim Whitman. One of the more talked about versions is by classical singer Jackie Evancho. She recorded it when she was 10.

Song of the Day is created by Sheldon Zoldan, and produced by Pam James for WGCU.