HERE to download!
To give you a little background, I originally recorded the song for a CD called ‘Hunger No More,’ a fundraiser for Minnesota food shelves organized by our friend Dermot O’Mara in 1997 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Great Hunger in Ireland (also known as the Famine). I actually learned ‘Willie-O’ eons ago, from the singing of Cathal McConnell, an old friend of Paddy’s who plays the flute and sings with the Boys of the Lough. At the time I learned it, I hadn’t yet met Cathal or Paddy, but loved the beautiful, sad lyrics of this ghost story set to music. For anyone who’s interested, here are the words of the song:
My Willie sails on board a tender,
And where he’s bound, I do not know.
Seven long years I have waited for him,
Since he’s crossed the Bay of Biscay-o.
One night as Mary lay a-sleeping,
A knock came to her bedroom door,
Saying ‘Arise, arise, my lovely Mary,’
‘To take one last look at your Willie-o.’
Young Mary rose, put on her clothing,
And opened wide the bedroom door.
It was there she saw her Willie standing,
And his two cheeks as white as snow.
‘O Willie dear, where are those blushes,’
‘Those blushes you had many years ago?’
‘Oh Mary dear, the cold clay has changed them,’
‘I am only the ghost of your Willie-o.’
‘O Mary dear, I must be going,’
‘For now the cocks they’ve begun to crow.’
And when she saw him disappearing,
It was down her cheeks the tears did flow.
O had I great stores of gold and silver,
And all the gold in Mexico,
I would give it all to the King of England,
If he could bring me back my Willie-o.