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Here you will find information and song words to the CD, "The Leaving"


"The Leaving" is my forth album, and I decided to once again go back to recording without, or very little accompaniment. The songs are a mixture of old traditional songs and some new, that I have been lucky enough to be given by the authors, to use on this CD. 

The name of the CD comes from that great song that was written by Cormac McConnell, who has written many songs, and has had a lot of his work recorded by very well known singers. 

Cormac sang this song for me while we were teaching at the Catskills Irish Arts week, in East Durham, NY this year 2014. I was lucky enough to spend most of the week with himself and his lovely daughter, Ciara.

Some of the songs are of emigration and loss, these songs tell us stories of what life was like and what people had to go through during certain dark times in Ireland. Some of the songs are funny and tell us of how people entertained each other. Some of songs tells us how plans backfire on crazy Irish women.

Some are in Irish and some of these songs are of English origin.

With each of the songs I will give you some info, which is just below the lyrics in Red.

I hope that you enjoy the CD and reading the stories behind the songs.

So off you go on your journey.

To buy this, or any other of my CD's, please go to my online shop and  buy from there. Link below.



The Leaving

Mai Hernon McEvilley

Track List







                        1.  The Leaving












In a city bus at noon, on a summer's afternoon,

through a classroom windowpane, I saw them all,

Young heads o're papers bent. as the pen's araising went,

on the honour's paper chase, in that exam hall.


They looked so fair and young, that is seemed so very wrong,

to keep them captive there, out of the sun,

for those that teach the youth, don't teach them all the truth,

when the leaving's, over, the Leaving's just begun.



For they were doing their leaving, and they were greiving,

not quite believing, their childhood's gone,

Though they may fail or pass, time comes for every class,

when the leaving's over, the leaving's just begun.


In the Shannon airport hall, I saw a beauty tall,

the lad that loved her well, stood by her side,

She was bound for Boston town, to wear her nurse's gown,

She got her Donnelly card, no need to hide,


But he was turned away, no job or place to stay,

no skill the Yankee's need, prospects unknown,

I watched them kiss goodbye, I saw her start to cry,

she walked the exit line, all on her own.



For she was doing her leaving, and she was greiving,

Not quite believing her love was gone,

Though the may fail or pass, for every lad and lass

When the Leaving's over, the Leaving's just begun.


In a ward for oldest men, a 1/4 after 10, 

the oldest man lay there, five score and two,

Gaunt face, silver hair, not moving,just lying there

watching statue's on the wall, nothing left to do.


They knew he was unwell, as he rang the locker bell,

the little nun that came, knew what to do,

John put your hand in mine, your soul is set for flying,

the door is open wide, just walk on through.




for he was doing his leaving, and sitll was grieving,

not quite believing his course was run,

at last he's got his pass, and he's in the honors class,

and the leaving's over, al th exams are done.



For anyone who is not from Ireland, let me explain something that

will give the song more meaning for you. In Ireland, children go to national school from the age of 4 to 12.  Then, they attend secondary, or post -primary, school until they are 17/18. They sit a final exam before they leave this school, and that exam is called "The Leaving Certificate," or the "Leaving Cert," or "The Leaving."  So when this final exam is done, the student either goes to college or goes out working or leaves the country. But one way or another, The Leaving is a very appropriate name for the exam.


2. Dooley Gate

I'Oh Dooley Gate, sweet Dooley Gate, you're the place I do adore,

All young men and maidens who dwelt in it before,

all young men and maidens who now are far away,

they are not in sweet Dooley Gate, but in America.


My true love's name, I'll not explain is handsom, tall and straight,

he is the finest young man that walks around Dooley Gate

he is the finest young man that ever I did see,

and in spite of all my enmies, I'll keep his company.


Some speak ill of my true love, and more speak ill of me,

but I don't care what they say, I'll keep his company,

I don't care what they say, I'll do the best I can

I'll soon be leaving st Mary's Mill's to marry this young man.


It would break my heart if I had to part from the lad I do adore

he said that he would marry me, and leave old Erin's shore,

He named the day, the month of May, and did no hesatate,

It's then that I will bid farewell to dear old Dooley Gate.



Oh Dooley Gate, sweet Dooley Gate, you're the place I do adore,

All young men and maidens who dwelt in it before,

all young men and maidens who now are far away,

they are not in sweet Dooley Gate, but in America.



I got the lovely song from the singing of Gerry Cullen, Drogheda, who is also a singer with the Voice Squad. It is a song about the town of Duleek, Co Meath.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gerry at the Frank Harte singing weekend in Dublin before I left for America, and he was good enough to bring me home after a long session of singing, to my son's house in Bettystown. He recorded this song on a CD called "Carberry's Sessions".  Dónal McGuire, another great singer from that area, told me who he heard singing it, and to my shame, I cannot remember the name of the woman who was a great collector of songs of that area. But the next time I see him, I will ask and add the info to this note.





4.   Tipping it up to Nancy

3.  The Green Fields of America

Farewell to old Ireland the land of my fathers, It's now I am going for ever to leave,

Farewell to the land where the shamrock adorn, the birthplace of freedom and home of the brave.


When I think on those valleys with fond admiration, I thought ne'er again its green hyills I might see,

but my thought  the shall wander to the thoughts of old Ireland,

when we reach the green fields of Americay.


it's hard to be forced from the land that we live in,

Our houses and farms obliged for to sell,

and to wander alone amoungst Indians and strangers,

to find some safe place for our children to dwell.


OUr farmers, our artists and our tradesmen are going,

to seek for employment foar over the sea,

where they will get riches with peace and industry,

there's nothing but hardship at home if the stay.


there's one bonnie lassie I now will bring with me,

her dwelling is in a place in the Co Tyrone,

It'd would break my heart for to leave her behind me,

so we'll roam together this wild world all o're.


Sh here's to my Bessie, my lbue-eyed lassie,

bid farewell to your parents and come along with me,

I'll do my endeavour my love to maintain you,

when we reach the green fields of Americay.


our ship is lying in fair Derry Harbour,

just waiting to take us safe over the main,

so heaven be our pilot and bring us strong breezes

'till we reach the green fields of America.


So come to the land where we will be happy,

don't be afraid of the storm or the sea,

for it's when we get over we will surely discover,

that this is the land of sweet liberty.







This beautiful song talks about the hardship that the Irish found themselves in during hard times in Ireland. Many people left the Irish shores to find a better life over the ocean to what they called The Free World. Many Irish that went on those ships never returned home, but died either on their way to America or they died working on the railroads or canals. But, many others made a good living and were able to send money home to the people they left behind.  Some of them  became very successful businessmen, and many went into politics.

5. Samhradh, Samhradh

Samhraidh, samhraidh bainne na ngahna,

thugemar fein an samhradh linn.

Samhraidh búi na noínin glégeal

dó thugemar fein an samhradh linn.


Thugamar línn é ón gcoill chraobhaigh,

thugamar féin an samhradh linn

Samhraidh buí ó luí na gréinne,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.


Bábóg na bealtaíne, maighdean an tsamhraidh,

suas gach cnoc is síos gach gleann.

Cailiní maiseacha bán-gheala gléagál,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.


Cuilean is coll is trom is Cárthain,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn,

is fuinseog shleígeal bhéal an Átha

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.



This song is ancient, and it is a celebration of the Summer coming in.

It is a song that I heard the group The Glooming doing, and I fell in love with it. 

Oh, there's been a woman in our town, a woman you ought know well

She dearly loved her husband and another man twice as well


cho: With me right finnickineerio, me tip finnick a wall

     With me right finnickineerio, Tipping it up to Nancy



She went down to the chemist shop some remedies for to buy,

Have you anything in your chemist shop to make me old man blind?



Give him eggs and marrowbones and make him suck them all,

Before he has the last one sucked, he won't see you at all.'



The Chemist wrote a letter, and he penned it with his hand,

he sent it to Marin, to make him understand.



She gave him eggs and marrowbones and made him suck them all,

Before he had the last one sucked, he couldn't see the wall.



If in this world I cannot see, here I cannot stay.

I think that I'll drown myself; "Come on," says she, "and I'll show you the way"


She led him to the river, she led him to the brim

But sly enough of Martin, it was him that shoved her in.



She swam through the river, she swam through the brine

"Oh Martin, dear Martin. Don't leave me behind."

"Arrah shut up outa that ye silly aul fool',don't you know poor Martin is blind" with me right finnickineero, tipping it up to Nancy.


If in this world I cannot see, here I cannot stay.

I'd drown myself; "Come on," says she, "and I'll show you the way"



There's nine in me family and none of them is my own,

I wish that each and every man would come and claim his own.





I play bodhrán on this song. I think this is a version of the song

"There Was an Old Woman from Wexford."  I don't know which one came first, but I do like this version, and I don't know where I got it from.


6  The Spark


I once met a soul

That stood and met mine

With such force and such love

A spark quite divine


And the joy I knew then

Was a wholesome delight

It brightened my days

And brought comfort at night


Though out paths did diverge

And put miles between friends

There was always the thought

That we’d meet again.

There were sometimes reports

That all was just fine,

I’d relax in Knowledge

That there was still time.


My sight has grown dim

My ears have grown dull

But sharp as a pin

Are the feelings I mull

Though I shrink with each year

And each year the lines race

And tussle with time

To ravage my face.


The trees may all die

And the rocks may erode

The rivers run dry

And dust steals the road

But the spark I saw from you

A long time past

Will live in my memory

And for ever will last




This song was given to me one night a long time ago, in a folk club in London, It was downstairs in the Waltemstow Folk Club where I was a guest singer.

After the gig, myself and my friend, Dave Clair went downstairs for a drink, and that is where I met Sionad Jones, who is a very talented actress, singer, songwriter--and I could keep on writing about her--but anyway, she told me about this song, and she said that she would like for me to sing it, and if I would be interested, I could record it. 

Well, I am only getting around to recording it now, but good things are always worth waiting for. Thank you so much, Sionad.

7.  The Derry Air



Would God I were a tender apple blossom

That floats and falls from off the twisted bough

To lie and faint within your silken bosom

Within your silken bosom as that does now.


Or would I were a little burnished apple.

For you to pluck me gliding by so cold.

While sun and shade your robe of lawn will dapple

Your robe of lawn and your hair’s spun gold.


Yea, would to God I were among the roses,

That lean to kiss you as you float between,

While on a branch a bud uncloses,

A bud uncloses, to touch you queen.


Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing

A happy daisy, in your garden path,

That so your silver foot might press me going,

Might press me going even unto death.




This beautiful love song is very old, and to the best of my knowledge, is the original words to the Air called "The Derry Air."  I don't know if it had another name at one stage, but I call it The Derry Air.

Once again, I cannot tell you how old it is, but I know that it is way older that the song we know as Danny Boy. I heard an old man sing this one night in an old country pub in north Sligo. He was good enough to sing it again for me while I recorded it.



9. Sailing off to the Yankee Land

8. Bean Uí Chairbre

IAh 'tis well I remember a day in December,

it was grey, grey, raining and miserable,

grabbed our conturments, all of our instruments,

went down to Carberry's to play a we tune.


Ah inside, it was glorous, all the noterous,

were sitting there tpping away to the tune,

chatting an talking, all kinds of auld swalking,

we sishing the night would go on till the noon.



fair play Bean UíChairbre, but she's a strawberry,

she'll take the emptys and fill them for you,

and for the musician's, she's great reconation,

and not a penny she'll take from the crew.


There's good ould Tom Sullivan playing

like a bull again, rattling out tunes

like there going out of style,

and we Francie Taffee, he'll play for a laugh,

sweet music to charm the birds within miles.


Doctor's and nurses and factory workers

and tinkers and tailors and soilders too,

conglonmerations of all nomanations

enjoying the music and having a few.




Musicians and strangers through all 

kinds of Dangers, one time or another

are Droghada bound.

punks and munks and hippies and Rasta men

refreshments they'll find and a fantastic sound


Chorus X2



This funny upbeat song was written by a good friend of mine, who lives in Cootehall, near Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. Deirdre and her husband, Liam, at one stage had a very busy musical career. Deirdre is a fine songwriter and has many songs recorded. This song is about a woman who ran the pub in Drogheda, where Deirdre and Liam are from, and from all accounts, the woman loved all things Irish and her music of choice to be played in the pub was Traditional music.

Deirdre sang this song for me one day while we were going for a walk through the Forest Park near Boyle Co Roscommon, and I loved it.  So she gave it to me and told me that she would be happy for me to record it.  So here it is!


10. The Willow.

Come all you young men pary draw near now,

listen to these words I say,

I'm going to tell you about the people of Ireland,

there emigrating ot Americay,


Yes indeed they're enugratubg.

this poor country they can't stand,

they're putting their foot on board of a ship

and sailing off to the Yankeen land.


the night before they're dure for sailing

all the neighbours around the house they come

just to take a parting glass or otherwise to sing a song.


they dance all night till early morning,

each man cuttinga ll around the floor,

'till the mother comes in weeping,

saying, take your childre to the door.


the father looks around the cabin,

he knows that he's all alone,

his poor heart is fit for breaking,

his salt tears would melt a stone.




Hurrah for the gallant somns of Erin,

this poor country they can't stand

their putting their foot on board a ship 

and sailing off to the Yankee land.

the other day as I went walking

down the road I chanced ot go.

I saw to me a crowd approching

it nearly filled my heart with woe.


I saw the carts and carriages coming

onwards, forwards to the train,

and the handkerchiefs were waving

bidding farewell to Granuaile.



And when we reached the New York harbour,

old friends will greet us with good cheer,

saying how's old Ireland, how she doing,

How's she coming on this year?


She's the most distressed and cursed nation

that the world has ever seen.

all she's good for is process serving

in that little Isle of green.


Yes indeed, they're emigrating

from the land they love so dear

and any man that isn't married,

it's devil the wife he'll find next year.


Chorus x2




Dónal McGuire is one of the finest traditional singers to have come out of Ireland and it was a recording of his that I first heard this song. This song decribes the leaving of Ireland during the famine times and after, by tens of thousands of people to America and other parts of the world. 

The term "American Wake" is decribed in this song, telling the listener how all the neighbours would go to the house of the person who was about to leave for America, to say goodbye to them. Knowing that that person would, in all likelyhood, would never return to his home. It was regarded as a death in that family, hence, the term, "American Wake". 




It was underneath the weeping willow tree

Where you swore undying love for me

How sweet the promise that could never be

How sweet the dream we’d never came to see.


I sat beneath the willow tree and wept

For promises we made and never kept

A tear for every footstep as you left

Beneath the willow tree I sat and wept.


Who can know the thoughts and secrets of the heart

That tears a love to pieces and apart

That leaves a stone, where once a flower grew,

That turns the world and deeper shade of blue.



It’s underneath our weeping willow tree

She lay within your arms so peacefully

I stood upon the hill and watched you there

You never saw me through her golden hair.


Beneath our willow tree I sat and wept

For promises you made and never kept

A tear for every footstep as you left

Beneath our willow tree, I sat and wept.



When I recorded my first CD, called "Peace in Erin" I met a man by the name of John O'Regan. John is a music critic with many music magazines in Ireland, England and America, which gives him access to many artists and music. John became a good friend of mine and he sent me a tape with many songs on it. Throughout the last 15 years or so, I have moved a few times and in moving, I lost the tape. But I remembered this song, or at least the air of it. But John furnished me once again with the words. It is a lovely song and the first time I heard it, was from a recording of the Great singer from Scotland, called Chris Miles, who I also regard as a friend now.


11. Sally free and Easy

Sally free and easy, that should be her name

Sally free and easy, that should be her name

Took and sailors loving, for a nursery game


Well, the heart she gave me

Was not made of stone

No the heart she gave me,

Was not made of stone.

It was sweet and hollow, like a honey cone


I think I’ll wait till sunset, see the ensign down

Yes I’ll wait till sunset, see the ensign down

Then I’ll take the tideway, to my burial ground.


Sally Free and easy, that should be her name

Sally free and easy, that should be her name

When my body’s landed, hope she dies of shame.




My good friend Dave Clair gave me this song, which was written by the English singer/songwriter, Cyril Tawney. 

It's a beautiful song that tells of a man's heart being broken by a girl who was, for want of a better way of saying it, playing games with him. 

13 Gaol of Cluin Malla.




How hard is my fortune, how vain my repinance

The strong rope of fate, for this young neck is twining

My strength is departed, and cheeks sunk and sallow

While I langouste in chains in the jail of Cloonmalla


No boy in the village was ever yet milder

I play with the child and my sport was no wilder

I dance without tiring from morning till evening

And I’d strike at my goal ball in the lighting of heaven


At my bed foot decaying my hurley is lying

Through the lands of the village my goal ball is flying

My horse with the neighbours neglected may follow

While I lie in chains in the jail of Cloonmalla


Next Sunday, the pattern at home will be keeping

All the young active hurlers the field will be sweeping

The dance of fair maidens the evening will hollow

While this heart once so gay, will be cold in Cloonmalla



This is a song telling of a young man who was arrested by the red coats, who were in Ireland around the 1790's, He had joined the White Coats who were a band of men that was  formed to try to get the English landlords to leave Ireland. They were fighting for the freedom of the people from the oppression. So they would go around at night and do as much damage as they could to the lands and livestock of the agents and Landlords who lived on the estates around the south of Ireland. They were known as White Shirts because that is what they wore so that they would know each other at night.


15. The Quiet joys of Brotherhood.


As gentle tides go rolling by, Along the salt sea strand The colours blend and roll as one Together in the sand. And often do the winds entwine Do send their distant call, The quiet joys of brotherhood, And love is lord of all.


The oak and weed together rise, Along the common ground. The mare and stallion light and dark Have thunder in their sound. The rainbow sign, the blended flower Still have my heart in thrall. The quiet joys of brotherhood, And love is lord of all.


But man has come to plough the tide, The oak lies on the ground. I hear their tires in the fields, They drive the stallion down. The roses bleed both light and dark, The winds do seldom call. The running sands recall the time




Sandy Denny was a great folk singer who died far too early, but she left her beautiful voice and recordings of great songs behind. This is one of them, and once again I have John O'Regan to thank for this. John told me about this song, and I fell in love with it. I do intend at some stage to do an arrangement of it with music. Thank you John.



12. Hole in the piper's bag


Mrs Gilooley, she had a grand party one night, she invited us all to attend.

So we gathered a gang, and went down to her house, a few plesant hours to spend.

There was Mick and Mai, a few more and myself, a more impudent crowd hard to find.

But the thing most important we all ne'er forgot, we ne'er left the piper behind.


we invited him down to the party, he took his bagpipes just by chance,

we asked him to sing but he said, Ah No, I'll play ye a bit of a dance.

So, he picked up his pipes and he started to play, until someone got fooling about,

they put a big hole in the back of his pipes, and this is the tune that came out.


(Lilt first part of Colliers reel.)


when the piper found out that his bag had been cut,

well he made a great leap to the floor,

His cítóg got working in fast hammer style

and he knocked them under the jaw,

Well, Mrs Gilooley, she fainted, and they all made a rush

trying to get out of the door,

but the piper had nine of them cought on the count,

and he swore that he'd lick twenty more.



we invited him down to the party, he took his bagpipes just by chance,

we asked him to sing but he said, Ah No, I'll play ye a bit of a dance.

So, he picked up his pipes and he started to play, until someone got fooling about,

they put a big hole in the back of his pipes, and this is the tune that came out.


(Lilt first part of the Colliers reel)


Now if ever you go to a party, make sure you keep this in your mind,

don't fool about with the piper, and you'll find he's a gentleman kind.

but if trouble should start, well keep out of his way,

for he carries an awful póltóg, 

you won't find it coming, but woops, when it lands,

you'll know it's an Irish Cítóg.



we invited him down to the party, he took his bagpipes just by chance,

we asked him to sing but he said, Ah No, I'll play ye a bit of a dance.

So, he picked up his pipes and he started to play, until someone got fooling about,

they put a big hole in the back of his pipes, and this is the tune that came out.



(lilt the full Colliers reel)




I want to dedicate this song to the memory of a Singer from Sligo called Michael Davitt, who would sing this song at the monthly singing sessions in Durkin's in Ballinacarrow. I first heard Kevin Burke the fiddle player sing this on TV a long time ago. But Michael used to sing it now and again.  God rest his soul.


14. Ten min's too late

I'There's some fidgety folks I always have known Who are famous for being out too soon For that two o'clock dinner or four o'clock tea They always turn up around noon.

Such whimsical fancy I ne'er call my own Although the reverse is my fate. (As a curse has decided my fate) For it always occurs that wherever I go I'm exactly ten minutes too late.

chorus: Punctuality is all very proper I know and all hurry and worry I hate, For it always occurs that wherever I go I'm exactly ten minutes too late

I was once in my life very deeply in love When I courted in verse and in prose. I obtained me a big lock of her hair and a glove And I made up my mind to propose.

Well the cab drove away as I knocked on her door And the answer decided my fate, For my rival had been just ten minutes before So that I was ten minutes too late.


When I jump on a tram or I hop on a bus To be nicely in time for a train Well I'm all in a fever and quite in a fuss Though I know that my efforts' in vain.

For when I arrive at the station at last And I think it five minutes to eight I observe by the clock that it's five minutes past So that I am ten minutes too late.


I could sing for a month if I tore into song Of the misfortunes I've had to endure, For this this curse is has haunted me all my life long And will haunt me till death I am sure.

When this fitful career is approaching its end And I lie in a critical state, Sure No matter what physics the doctor may send He'll send them ten minutes too late.




I got this song from the singing of my good friend, Frank Finn. 

Frank used to sing this song at a lot of the singing sessions in Sligo.

He was a great man to organise a singing session, and he was the driving force behind what is now one of the great singing festivals  in Ireland. The Frank Finn traditional singing festival, which is held the first weekend in Oct, every year. Frank died a few years ago, and he left a big void that can never be filled. God Bless you Frank, I am sure you are getting all the singers together up there in Heaven.

I am dedicating this track to Frank's family: Bernie, his wife and his kids.

16. The Wee Weaver


TI am a wee weaver, confined to my loom;
My love she is fair as the red rose in June.
She's loved by all young men and that does grieve me;
My heart's in the bosom of lovely Mary.

As Willie and Mary rode by yon shady bower,
Where Willie and Mary spent many a happy hour,
Where the thrush and the blackbird in concert do sing
The praises of Mary and love sweet and pure.

As Willie and Mary rode by yon river side,
Said Willie to Mary, "Will you be my bride?"
This couple got married and they'll roam no more;
Their pleasures and treasure's round Lough Erne shore



I cannot tell you where I heard this song, but I am singing it a very long time. The first time I ever met Phil Callery from The Voice Squad, was at an All Ireland Fleadh in Ballina. Myself and my son Séamus were upstairs in the club house, at a session and I happened to be singing when Phil walked in. He left after I sang the song and I was very nervous realising that he sat beside me listening to me, listening to me while I sang the song. But he came back  and invited me to join him in a singing session that was being set up across the hall in another room. He took me by the hand, knowing that I was a bundle of nerves, and he brought me into the room where I saw some of the greats, Frank Harte was there among others.

Phil sat me down beside him asked me to sing. I nearly died there and then, so I thought of the shortest song I knew, and I proceeded to sing  this song. I think I did a good job of it, because there was pure silence after I sang, and then there was a great loud applause. I, on the other hand, was at this stage, sick with nerves, but I was oh so happy that I was in that great company, and  had been asked by Phil to sing at that session.



Thank you

If you bought my CD, I would like to thank you. I do hope you like it and that you might even try learning some of the songs on it. That is the reason I wrote the lyrics on this site. 

I would like to dedicate this CD to my husband Mick McEvilley and my three sons and their partners.

Cormac MacConnell for the lyrics of The Leaving.

Sioned Jones for the lyrics of The Spark.

Deirdre Cunningham for the lyrics of Bean Uí Charibre.

I would like to thank Dan Murphy from Group effort Recording studio for being a great sound engineer, and being a great person to work with. 

Sherry Chapman for graphic design.

QCA inc. printers.

I would like to thank all the people who have gone before me, who wrote the songs and the singers who passed them on, so that I can experience the joy of singing and teaching them to others. 



Sound Engineer   Dan Murphy

Recording studio  Group Effort Cincinnati. 


Publishing and copyright Mai Hernon McEvilley 2014

all rights of the producer and the owner of this work reproduced reserved.

Unauthorised copying, hiring, renting, public performance and broadcasting of this record prohibited.

Track 1 Written by Cormac Mac Connell 

Track 6 Written by Sioned Jones 

Track 8 Written by Deirdre Cunningham

Track 11 Written by Cyril Tawney

Track 15 Written by Richard Firiña

All other tracks are Traditional and are arranged by Mai Hernon McEvilley 

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