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Danny Boy Banned

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On March 17th of each year, every person becomes Irish for a day. It's St. Patrick's Day, and all across the globe, from New York City to Buenos Aires to Tokyo, people watch parades, drink green beer, and eat corned beef and cabbage. The month of March sees a spike in all things Irish, especially purchases of Guinness and Irish songs played on jukeboxes. But at a bar in Manhattan, the owner has banned one thing particularly Irish for the whole month - the song "Danny Boy."

"Danny Boy" is ranked as one of the twenty-five most depressing tunes of all time. It seems much more appropriate for a funeral rather than a holiday celebration. The song symbolizes a time when many Irish fled hunger and grim economic conditions for more optimistic opportunities in America, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere. Many other Irish songs are similarly depressing, though, such as "Cockles and Mussels." That 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 gets played too much 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 free Guinness for singing any traditional Irish song except "Danny Boy."

Although some patrons are pleased with the decision, others consider it a break with tradition. It would be akin to a December without "Jingle Bells" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."


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. The month of March sees a (                         ) in all things Irish, especially Guinness and Irish songs.
  2. The owner has (                         ) one thing particularly Irish for the whole month - the song "Danny Boy."
  3. "Danny Boy" is (                         ) as one of the twenty-five most depressing tunes of all time.
  4. The song (                         ) a time when many Irish fled hunger.
  5. They fled (                         ) economic conditions, too.
  6. They looked for more (                         ) opportunities in America, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere.
  7. The bar owner (                         ) that the song gets played too much during the month.
  8. He was (                         ) sick of "Danny Boy."
  9. Although some (                         ) are pleased with the decision, others consider it a break with tradition.
  10. It would be (                         ) to a December without "Jingle Bells" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

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.


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