Spanish Lady

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Lady of Spain or Spanish Ladies.
"The Spanish Lady" redirects here. It is not to be confused with the unfinished Elgar opera.

"Spanish Lady" is a traditional Irish folk song, also found in England. The Bodleian Library has several broadsides of an English ballad with this name, one dating from the 17th century.[1] Fragmentary or related versions from the US date from 1883. It is #543 in the Roud Folk Song Index.[2] It should not be confused with "Spanish Ladies" or "Lady of Spain," both of which are entirely different songs.


The lyrics vary, depending on the provenance of the song. There are several Dublin versions, one of them usually called the Wheel of Fortune. Other Irish versions relate to Galway (called Galway City) and Belfast. An English version refers to Chester.[2]

As I went down to Dublin city,
At the hour of twelve at night,
Who should I see but the Spanish Lady,
Washing her feet by candle-light.
First she washed them, then she dried them
Over a fire of amber coal,
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so sweet about the soul.

Whack fol the toora, loora laddi-o
Whack fol the toora loora lay

As I went back through Dublin city
At the hour of half-past eight
Who should I see but the Spanish Lady
Brushing her hair outside the gate.
First she brushed it, then she combed it,
On her hand was a silver comb.
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so fair since I did roam.


As I came back through Dublin city
As the sun began to set
Who should I see but the Spanish Lady
Catching a moth in a golden net.
When she saw me then she fled me
Lifting her petticoat over her knee
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so shy as the Spanish Lady.


I've wandered north and I've wandered south
By Stoneybatter and Patrick's Close
Up and around by the Gloucester Diamond
And back by Napper Tandy's house.
Old age has laid her hand on me
Cold as a fire of ashy coals
But where o where is the Spanish Lady,
Neat and sweet about the soul?

(traditional Dublin version dating from the 19th century)


There are other variations of the song, with some involving duels. The Irish singer Christy Moore recalls [3] encountering the song in his youth and including it in his earliest repertoire. However, the version he encountered and used is quite different from the more widely known version made popular by artists such as The Dubliners.

This alternative version is as follows:

As I went out by Dublin City at the hour of 12 at night

Who should I see but a Spanish lady washing her feet by candlelight

First she washed them then she dried them all by the fire of amber coal

In all my life I ne'er did see a maid so sweet about the sole

I asked her would she come out walking and went on till the grey cocks crew

A coach I stopped then to instate her and we rode on till the sky was blue

Combes of amber in her hair were and her eyes knew every spell

In all my life I ne're did see a woman I could love so well

But when I came to where I found her and set her down from the halted coach

Who was there with his arms folded but the fearful swordsman Tiger Roche

Blades were out 'twas thrust and cut, never a man gave me more fright

Till I lay him dead on the floor where she stood holding the candlelight

So if you go to Dublin City at the hour of twelve at night

Beware of the girls who sit in their windows combing their hair in the candlelight

I met one and we went walking, I thought that she would be my wife

When I came to where I found her, if it wasn't for my sword I'd have lost my life.


It has been covered by many artists, including Frank Harte (who sang two Dublin versions as well as an English one), The Dubliners, Gaelic Storm, Michael Grosvenor Myer (YouTube channel), Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder (Emmet Cahill), and Ronnie Drew and Dustin from The Saw Doctors (went No. 1 on Irish Singles Chart).


  1. ^ Shepard, Leslie. 1962 The broadside ballad : a study in origins and meaning
  2. ^ a b Ballad Index
  3. ^ Moore, Christy (2000) One Voice - My Life in Song. London: Hodder and Stoughton; p. 166

External links[edit]