Before the end of the 19th century she had given birth to two daughters and had been widowed, losing her first husband, John Sweeny in a coal mining accident. She raised her girls by running a boarding house owned by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Sparrows Point MD.
By the time I was born in 1947 she'd been widowed a second time and shared her home with her eldest daughter Marie Sweeney Kelley, my father's mother, also widowed. They had a small farm in Baltimore County where our family would often gather for holidays and other celebrations of note. It was here on those rare and highly anticipated occasions Delia would summon four generations of our clan to the piano in her parlor. Out would come the old photo's and sheet music stored in the piano bench. All would sing along learning Delia's favorites in the process as my grandmother Marie or my sister Joan played. Even after half a century those sessions hold some of my fondest memories. I can still hear my parents, John and Sara, singing and remember the feeling of comfort it brought me. In 1952 my twin brother Michael and I made our "BIG DEBUT" there, a rendition of "California Here I Come" arranged and directed by Joan.
I thought it appropriate that my first solo recording should be a return to those roots. All of the ballads I've chosen were written before Delia was born; many were her lifelong favorites and became mine also.
It was truly a MIGHTY PLEASURE working with everyone involved in this project. I'm certain Delia would have appreciated their efforts and welcomed them into her parlor, as I hope you will.
Thanks also to Kevin d'Arcy and Bill Briwa for their research assistance, the Beland family of Tyler Trax for their hospitality, and my wife Barbara for her endless encouragement.
Rest in peace, dear Delia.
1. Jovial Collier Lad
2. The Old House
3. Arthur McBride
4. Eileen Oge
5. The Star of the County Down
6. My Lagan Love
7. Whiskey in the Jar
8. Dennis Murphy's/Forty-Two Pound Cheque/John Ryan's
9. Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms
10. The Old Turf Fire
11. The Garden Where the Praties Grow
12. The Mountains of Mourne
13. Tunnel Tigers
14. Calliope House/Jig in A/Wee Johnny
15. Gentle Annie
16. Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair
17. The Streams of Doonah
18. Bantry Bay
19. The Parting Glass