Irish Washerwoman | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

Irish Washerwoman is one of the most widely played jigs on Prince Edward Island (many fiddlers in fact use it as a warm-up tune). Most of the examples included here come from Western Prince County, where fiddlers seem to be particularly interested in the tune’s rhythmic possibilities. Leo Farrell in particular has an unusual “twist” on the melody.

Robert Crane tells us that fiddlers from Central Kings County often used to medley the tune with another jig in G called A Stick in Paddy’s Land.

The origins of Irish Washerwoman are far from clear, and several tunes have been cited as possible ancestors. Perhaps the earliest publication under its current appelation was The Gow Collection, Vol. 3 (1792). It was subsequently printed under this name in Lowe’s Collection of Reels, Strathspeys, Jigs [. . .] vol. 1 (1844), Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, aka 1000 Fiddle Tunes (1882), The Athole Collection (1884), and O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903).

Notation for Irish Washerwoman as played by Leo Farrell is available here. Notation for this tune as played by Attwood O’Connor is in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.

Tune Selections

Arsenault, Delphine - Irish Washerwoman Accompanied by: Zélie-Anne Arsenault pump organ
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Doucette, Joseph - Irish Washerwoman / Ten Penny Bit Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr
West Prince
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Doucette, Victor - Maid on the Green / Irish Washerwoman Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr; Cathy Doucette, bass
West Prince
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Farrell, Leo - Irish Washerwoman Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
West Prince
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Gaudet, David - Irish Washerwoman / Jimmy MacKinnon of Smelt Brook Accompanied by: Robert Gallant, pno; Cecil Arsenault, gtr
West Prince
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Poirier, Zelie-Anne Arsenault - Irish Washerwoman (harmonica) Accompanied by: Jacques Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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