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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
skw@ Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla (84* d) Lyr Add: OLD MOTHER LEE^^ 12 Oct 98

The Dubliners' version of 'Weila Waile' is slightly different from the Clancys'. After the 'three loud knocks' it goes on:

There were two policemen and a man

They took her away and they put her in the jail

They put the rope around her neck

They pulled the rope and she got hung

Now that was the end of the woman in the wood
And that was the end of her bawbee too

At some point the song jumped across the Irish Sea. The Spinners did a version called 'Old Mother Lee' about which they said:

[1974:] The girls of Kirkdale, Liverpool, whose brothers at Major Street school gave this to [Spinner] Tony Davis, had certainly not heard of Professor Child. However, their skipping is unmistakeably based on the ['Cruel Mother] ballad substituting the grim realities of 'forty police', 'the magistrate' and capital punishment for the ghostly children and the 'fires of hell' of the older form of the story. (Notes 'The Spinners at the London Palladium')

There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Old Mother Lee, old Mother Lee
There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Down by the walnut tree

She had a baby in her arms

She had a penknife long and sharp

She stabbed te baby through the heart

The next-door neighbours saw the blood

They rang up for the forty police

The forty police came running (skipping) out

They took her to the magistrate

The magistrate said she must die

They hung her to the walnut tree
And that was the end of old Mother Lee

Their tune is a very simple but energetic one, entirely consistent with being used for skipping by children and for nothing else. - Susanne

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