Paddy's Leather Britches

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PADDY'S LEATHER BREECHES. Scottish, Jig. B Minor/Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. The tune is played for the Scottish dance called The Irish Washerwoman, familiarly known as the Irish Jig by Scottish dancers, and part of the modern repertoire at dancing schools. Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String,1972) states: "The tune is a superb set of variations, usually published under the title of 'Paddy's Leather Breeches,' which, in the hands of a good piper, can sound absolutely fascinating." Regarding the dance, Wikipedia [1] gives:

The Sailor's Hornpipe was adapted from an English dance, and is now performed more frequently in Scotland, while the Irish Jig is a humorous caricature of, and tribute to, Irish step dancing (the dancer, in a red and green costume, is an interpretation of an Irish person, gesturing angrily and frowning). If the Irish Jig is danced by a woman or girl, it is about either the distressed wife scolding her husband, a woman being tormented by leprechauns, or a washerwoman chasing taunting boys (or children in general) away who have dirtied her washing - the showing of the woman's fist symbolizes her wanting to beat up the children, the leprechauns, or the husband. If it is danced by a man or boy, it is the story of Paddy's Leather Breeches, in which a careless washerwoman has shrunk Paddy's fine leather breeches and he is waving his shillelagh at her in anger and showing his fist, intending to hit her.

The title, "Paddy's Leather Britches," once belonged to a mid-19th century comic song called "Old Leather Breeches (1)" or "Paddy Heagerty's Leather Breeches," set to various 6/8 time melodies.

A port-à-beul (mouth music) variant is known as "Ciamar a ni mi an dannsa direach" ("How will I do the dance properly"):

Ciamar a nì mi an dansa dìreach?
Ciamar a nì mi an ruidhe bòidheach?
Ciamar a nì mi an dansa dìreach?
Dh’fhalbh am prìon’ a bann mo chòta?

Dh’fhalbh am prìona, ‘s chuir e clì mi
Dh’fhalbh am prìon’ a bann mo chòta?
Dh’fhalbh am prìona, ‘s chuir e clì mi
Ciamar a nì mi an ruidhe bòidheach?

Translation:

How can I do the dance rhythmically?
How can I do the reel prettily?
How can I do the dance rhythmically?
The pin has gone from the hem of my coat!

The pin has gone - that I upset me
The pin has gone from the hem of my coat!
The pin has gone - that I upset me
How can I do the reel prettily?

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vol. 1), 1991; p. 38.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Hear a bagpipe version on youtube.com [2] and Vimeo [3]
Hear a fiddle version played by Allan MacKenzie in 1969 at Tobar an Dualchais [4][5]
See more information on the dance [6]




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