Though the song is supposed to be a message from a woman to a man the song is actually sung by men as much as, or possibly more often than, by women.
The song has been interpreted by some listeners as a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the Irish Diaspora.
Although some view the above interpretation of Danny Boy as the true meaning, there is also another meaning for this song. The lyrics were supposedly written by a father who lost his son, Danny. The phrase, "the pipes, the pipes are calling" refers to the traditional funeral instrument played at funerals.
The song is widely considered an Irish anthem, considered by many Irish Americans and Irish Canadians to be their unofficial signature song.
"O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountainside
The summer's gone and all the roses falling
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
O Danny boy, O Danny boy, I love you so."
"But if ye come and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft, your tread above me
And all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I will sleep in peace until you come to me. "