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Danny Boy Banned

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On March 17th of each year, every person enjoys honorary Irish heritage for a day. It's St. Patrick's Day, and from north to south and east to west across the globe, in New York City and Buenos Aires and Tokyo, people watch parades, imbibe green beer, and tuck into a plate of corned beef and cabbage. The lead up to the festivities throughout the month sees a spike in all things Irish, too, especially Guinness purchases and Irish songs played on jukeboxes. But at a bar in Manhattan, the owner has nixed one thing particularly Irish for the whole of March, regardless of the holiday - the song "Danny Boy."

"Danny Boy," ranked as one of the twenty-five most depressing tunes of all time, seems far more appropriate for a funeral than a holiday celebration. It symbolizes the exodus in the 1800s, when Irish fled starvation and bleak economic conditions for more optimistic opportunities elsewhere. A number of other Irish songs offer similarly depressing fare, though, such as "Cockles and Mussels." The song relates the story of a young and beautiful fishmonger who dies of fever. Yet "Danny Boy" has gotten the axe.

The bar owner griped that the song simply gets far too much playtime during the month, and he was frankly sick of it. In fact, he promised that participants at the pre-St. Patrick's Day karaoke party would receive a Guinness on the house for singing any traditional Irish song but "Danny Boy."

Although some patrons are pleased with the decision, others consider it tantamount to blasphemy. A fair comparison would be the banning of "Jingle Bells" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" during December - something that just isn't done.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays.
  2. I want to drink green beer and sing Irish songs on St. Patrick's Day.
  3. It's okay if a bar wants to ban St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
  4. It's okay if a bar wants to ban certain songs on St. Patrick's Day.
  5. It's okay if a bar wants to ban certain customers on St. Patrick's Day.

Fill in the Blanks: Fill in the blank with the correct word.

  1. People watch parades and (                         ) green beer on St. Patrick's Day.
  2. The owner has (                         ) one thing particularly Irish for the whole of March - the song "Danny Boy."
  3. The song symbolizes the (                         ) in the 1800s.
  4. The Irish fled starvation and (                         ) economic conditions.
  5. They left Ireland for more (                         ) opportunities elsewhere.
  6. A number of other Irish songs offer similarly depressing (                         ), such as "Cockles and Mussels."
  7. The bar owner (                         ) that "Danny Boy" simply gets far too much playtime during the month.
  8. He was (                         ) sick of the song.
  9. Participants would receive a Guinness (                         ) for singing any traditional Irish song but "Danny Boy."
  10. Although some patrons are pleased with the decision, others consider it (                         ) to blasphemy.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Do you think it's illegal to ban the song from the bar? Why/not?
  2. Are there any songs you particularly hate? Would you consider banning those songs? Why/not?
  3. What else would you ban besides a particular song? Why would you ban it?
  4. What do you usually do for St. Patrick's Day?
  5. Are any holidays in your country associated with a particular song? If yes, please explain.

Google Search: Type "St. Patrick's Day" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


Download the lesson:

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