The Irish Waterman jig

Also known as Do Virgins Taste Better?, The Irish Washerwoman.

The Irish Waterman has been added to 97 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Irish Waterman
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
dc|BGG DGG|BGB dcB|cAA DAA|cAc edc|
gab ggd|ggb gbb|aga fdA|dff dfa|
gfe ggd|ggc ggB|ggd cBc|Bdc BGG|G2|

Twenty-one comments

The Tune

A tune that’s played quite a lot at my local session, this is one of those “You Love It Or You Hate It” Tunes, I personally love it, but if you don’t or have any comments, post a reply!

Tune Name

I don’t know whether it’s just a typo in the title but this tune is “The Irish Washerwoman”. I think Hollywood may take some of the blame for destroying this jig which always got played in the old films whenever an Irish context developed (leprechauns dancing, etc) - something like the Mexican Hat dance for Mexican situations! Also there were a lot of orchestral versions. However, I once heard Gerdie Commane play this on his concertina down in Ennis and it was really magic so obviously it’s the way it’s played that matters.

Re: Tune Name

I dont know if somebody somewhere has had a quick brainstorm, but this name is used In one of my tune books aswell as my local session, over hundreds of years it’s more than conciveable that titles get changed and new ones thought up though, thanks for setting me straight on the name, I’ll check more vigarously in future, so as not to post the same tune with an impropor name! The interesting thing is that where ever It’s called “The Irish Waterman” It’s always played in Dmaj….strange.

If it is really played with a c# as well as the f# then it must be a rare example of the G lydian mode, the mode that is more major than D major! I posted something about the modes some months ago. Doing a bar count, I see that there is an extra bar over the 16 bars of The Irish Washerwoman.



Thanks Trevor, I’ll look up your post about Modal playing, sounds interesting. yep it really is played with C# so sorry about calling it Dmaj, (It’s just a shame you cant change the key things are in after you’ve posted them!)

I’m sorry if I’m wrong and just being an ignorant, belligerent Yank, but this whole posting reads like one of those wildly fabricated letters to Dear Abby sent in just to get a rise out of the columnist. The tune is clearly Irish Washerwoman, played (or, as the case may be, pointedly NOT played) in trad circles in G maj (with c nats).

I see three possible interpretations here. Either (1) David is pulling our collective chain to see who will take the bait, or (2) it’s possible to take any (allegedly) Irish tune, keep the notes, but twist the key signature and call it Welsh traditional music, or (3) this Welsh version predates the Irish setting, in which case I’d say it proves the myth of the Irish ear for usurping and improving on other cultures’ music. 🙂

Is it just me? Well, at any rate, I mean no disrespect, but this is hilarious stuff. I haven’t laughed this hard since going to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding….

Posted .

Omigod. David, you’re pulling our legs, yes? Tell me you are. You must be, you can’t have not known this as not The Irish Washerwoman, key change or no key change.


How strong is the beer in North Wales?


Duplicate tunes

Normally, duplicate tune submissions aren’t allowed but I’m actually going to leave this one just because the comments are so funny.

But, guys, take it easy on poor Dafydd 🙂

Laugh, I nearly cried!

Come on Will! This is funnier than My big fat Greek Wedding. I think we should have more 16 1/2 bar tunes in G lydian mode.

My first exposure to ITM was this tune, it was on “Looney Tunes”(Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck etc). Maybe you should watch more cartoons, you might get a little more exposure to trad music than you’re getting right now.


Okay, Maybee I did know that this is “The Irish Washerwoman, No I’m not trying to acredit this to Welsh Traditional Music, and no the beer in wales is not that strong! Sorry for any confusion and even more sorry if I have insulted some people, Thanks for the support Jeremy, I’ll check future tune submissions more carefully,

Our Benevolent Dictator has demonstrated that he is also Wise and has a well-keeled Sense of Humor….

Honestly, this whole thing still has me chuckling. I can’t wait to play the Irish Waterman at my next session. Except I prefer the original post in A major. *grin*

Posted .

Looks like we may have a tune here that will go down in history…


My cartoon joke looked more like an insult in a second reading. I really meant it in a fun light, I should’ve used a 🙂 or two. My apologies if any offence was taken.

That’s Quite OK Bladely, if we’ve lost the ability to look at the music we play and mak jokes at even our own expense then whats the world comeing to, and besides that joke was funny!
Yes it looks like this tune has bloted my copy book on this web page for quite a while, but still, never mind!

Reminds me of a time I posted a tune that I had already posted. Jeremy masked any annoyance he had & I felt pretty stupid over the whole thing. Jeremy really has a lot of patience to deal with all of our foibles, three cheers to him for not packing up the whole site a long time ago. The blessing of this site is that we have people from all over the globe with instant access to the site, it’s also the makes for some hot debates. One tune could be played in no other key but G, meanwhile in another place you’ll get funny looks for playing that same tune in any key but G. As long as we all keep light hearted about the whole affair - that’s what’s important.

hee hee hee hee. Love the new key. Starts out just like boring ole Irish Washerwoman, then all of a sudden it’s Nightmare on Elm Street!

“Irish Washerwoman” - maintaining some connection

Key signature: G Major
Submitted on May 25th 2001 by Jeremy.

Personally for slap stick I prefer The Marx Brothers or Monty Python for starters rather than Lydia…or was it Lydian… “Lydia oh Lydia ~”

Do Virgins Taste Better - is a lyrical parody

Do Virgins Taste Better
words by Randy Farran, music traditional

A dragon has come to our village today.
We’ve asked him to leave, but he won’t go away.
Now he’s talked to our king and they worked out a deal.
No homes will he burn and no crops will he steal.

Now there is but one catch, we dislike it a bunch.
Twice a year he invites him a virgin to lunch.
Well, we’ve no other choice, so the deal we’ll respect.
But we can’t help but wonder and pause to reflect.

Do virgins taste better than those who are not?
Are they salty, or sweeter, more juicy or what?
Do you savor them slowly? Gulp them down on the spot?
Do virgins taste better than those who are not?
Now we’d like to be shed you, and many have tried.
But no one can get through your thick scaly hide.
We hope that some day, some brave knight will come by.
‘Cause we can’t wait around ‘til you’re too fat to fly.

Now you have such good taste in your women for sure,
They always are pretty, they always are pure.
But your notion of dining, it makes us all flinch,
For your favorite entree is barbecued wench.

Now we’ve found a solution, it works out so neat,
If you insist on nothing but virgins to eat.
No more will our number ever grow small,
We’ll simply make sure there’s no virgins at all!



All joking aside, this reminds me a little of the Ballykeal with the f nat but in a strange lysergic way. Anyway, if in doubt, Dafydd, next time just say it’s a Donegal version!