This jump rope rhyme is about Bridget Cleary, an Irish woman who was killed by her husband in 1895. Her husband Michael Cleary said he killed her because he believed she was abducted by fairies and replaced by a changeling.
Are you a witch or
Are you a fairy?
Or are you the wife
of Michael Cleary?
What's odd about this case is that about nine of the couple's family and friends were present at the time of Bridget Cleary's death. He had convinced them that she was a changeling or witch. Michael put his wife on fire and kept the people present from doing anything to help her. But it seems they were there in the first place to help him rid his wife of evil forces. They all went to trial and Michael was imprisoned. Bridget's death is referred to as the last witch burning in Ireland.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Original image from "More English Fairy Tales", illustrated by John D. Batten and heavily graphically edited by Mama Lisa.
Many thanks to Holly Gilster for singing this song for us and for playing it on the bongos.