The Irish Washerwoman

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The Irish Washerwoman is a traditional Irish jig whose melody is familiar to many people in the British Isles and North America.[1] It repeats its refrain several times, sometimes by gradually increasing in tempo until being played very fast before coming to a sudden stop. The tune has lyrics, but is typically rendered as an instrumental. It is one of the melodies played when Scottish highland dancers dance a Scottish dance to the tune of an Irish Jig.

The song was arranged for the Boston Pops Orchestra by the American composer Leroy Anderson in 1947 and has featured in the repertoire of the Dutch violinist and composer André Rieu, conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

It also was the basis for Larry Williams's R&B song "You Bug Me Baby", written by Sonny Bono, which was the flip side to the single "Bony Moronie".

A folk song called "The Chemist's Drinking Song" is set to this tune with lyrics by John A. Carroll, based on an idea by Isaac Asimov.

A Prairie Home Companion guitarist Pat Donohue wrote a parody set to this tune called "The Irish Blues," which appears on his 2011 album, Nobody's Fault. His lyrics reveal the morning-after consequences of spending the night before in concerted Irish celebration.

The title of the Irish feature film The Old Irish Washerwoman (2014) is a reference to the jig.


  1. ^ Cairns, Archie. 1995. Book 1 Pipe Music – The Irish Washerwoman's Jig.

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