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The Bobbed Hair
(Roud 3077)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singers’ home,
July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Tom Lenihan

I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand,
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: ‘Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin?’
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: ‘Tis all the fashion now.’

Ah, to see my darling’s hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although ‘tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
‘Some years ago,’ she said, ‘you know, ‘twas done by Black and Tans!’

Farewell, dear Bid, I’m clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I’m horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion’s sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty’s drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I’ll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don’t fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move,
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve.
The swallows are about to leave, no more we’ll see the hare,
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.

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Conversation between Tom Lehihan, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll after the song:
Jim: Who do you reckon made that song?
Tom: Well, it was supposed that ‘twas Paddy Jordan that composed it, but when he was asked about it, he said that he never composed it. That song is over sixty years.
Jim: Paddy Jordan was a Miltown man, was he?
Tom: He was a Miltown man.


"Styles and fashions have long been a subject for humour in song. Tom’s song of a lover lamenting an early 20th century hairstyle is one of the best we have come across. Its location in Corofin appears to indicate that it was locally made; Tom said it was a great favourite there. The reference to ‘Black and Tans' puts it some time after Independence and refers to a punishment meted out by the Tans on women in households harbouring Republicans, as dramatized in the film, ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’. It was also used by the Resistance in Europe during world War Two to those who consorted with German soldiers.
‘The Bobbed Hair’ is echoed by an American Ozark song of the late 1920s which pleads:

Why do you bob your hair girls?
It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you,
To bear the flapper’s name.’"

Reference:
North Carolina Folklore, Vol. 4, Frank C. Brown.
Jim Carroll


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