Foot-Water, The

Play recording: Foot-Water, The

view / hide recording details [+/-]

  • Teideal (Title): Foot-Water, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 841421.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): story.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Joan Rabinowitz.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): probably 19/10/1984.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): radio programme (KRAB).
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

During a discussion of Hallowe’en customs, and the bad habits of fairies, Joe explains that people were in the habit of washing their feet before going to bed at night. The water would then be thrown out of the house. But to make sure that the dirty water didn’t catch any of the Little People – the fairies – by surprise, it was important to accompany disposal of the water with the following rhyme:

Chugaibh, chugaibh, an t-uisce salach! Coinnigh as an mbealach!
Joe translates this as ‘Here comes the dirty water! Keep out of the way!’


In other parts of Conamara a similar rhyme is used when throwing out the water used to wash the potatoes:

Chugaibh, chugaibh, an t-uisce salach, an t-uisce a nígh na fataí! ‘(Look out! Look out! Here comes the dirty water, the water that washed the potatoes!)

Elements of fairy lore – and the importance of the feet-water – can be found in many other items in Joe’s repertoire. See The woman who found a bucket of blood in her kitchen, The Fairy and the Wool, Sliabh na mBan is on Fire!, traditions about the Púca and other spirits, and The woman who threw water on the fairies.

The recording date given is 19 October 1984, but this is probably the broadcast date, as Joe Heaney died in May of that year.