Enchanted White Duck (The)

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ENCHANTED WHITE DUCK, THE. Irish, Air (slow, 6/8 time). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. "A little boy is changed by draiodheacht or enchantment into a white duck, and in this disguise he is killed and eaten by his own family. Our servant Biddy Hickey used to tell the whole story, sometimes reciting, sonetimes singing, sometimes chanting in a monotone: but it has all faded from my memory except the following weird little fragment with its tune, which took strong hold of my childish fancy.

My mamma cut me and put me in the pot;
My dada said I was purty and fat;
My three little sisters they picked my small bones,
And buried them under the marble stones.

The English folk-tale called 'The Story of Orange' (for which see 'Journ. of the Folk-Song Soc.' vol. II. p. 295) corresponds with this, and some versions of the words come very close to the verse I give here. But there is nothing in the English air that in the least resembles our Irish tune" (Joyce).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 108, p. 55.

Recorded sources:




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