In the old days, recruitment for the army was carried out by a bagpiper who marched through fields and valleys, playing as he went and collecting young men behind him. There are also those who believe that Danny is joining the IRA to free Old Ireland, and that his father, having suffered at the hands of English gaolers, foresees that he will not live to see this liberation. Others, who do not see bagpipes to necessarily mean Ireland, suggest that the British Army is recruiting replacements for a distant war - perhaps as far away as Québec or India, and that Danny is off to serve King and country. Whatever battle it is, it can't be a very hazardous one, as he is expected to return. However, given that Weatherley himself said that there was no element of rebellion or bloodshed in the song, the notion that Danny is going off to war is probably unlikely.Reading all the lyrics makes you realize why my people live on Guinness.
Another explanation is that Danny is leaving Ireland and the Great Potato Blight for the New World and that the song is sung by his mother bidding him farewell. Unfortunately for her, Danny will probably never see her again - few emigrants returned to their home soil.
17 March 2007
Where Was Danny Going?
All the background that's fit to print: