Give us a Penny to Bury the Wren!

Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Dancing

26 December 2008
10:00 AM
Shannonside Radio & Northern Sound Radio
Co. Cavan
Martin Donohoe
00353 862342270
Give us a Penny to Bury the Wren!

‘Give us a penny to bury the wren’!

Make way for the Wren boys, Mummers, Rhymers and Strawboys

On St Stephens Day from 10am to 12 midday Martin Donohoe and the Nyah group will present a show on the subject of Wren boys, Mummers, Rhymers and Strawboys For some, Christmas is a time for children, for holly and mistletoe, for giving and receiving. For others, it’s the season of Wren boys and Mummers.Mumming is a centuries-old mid-winter tradition of folk drama that involves dressing in strange disguise costumes and sometimes performing a series of character roles in rhyme. From Newfoundland to Scandinavia to the UK and into Ireland where it still survives in the province of Ulster.

The masked tradition of ‘mumming’ in Ulster dates back 2500 years. In the ancient annals of Ulster, men in tall conical masks are mentioned as chief entertainers to King Conor, Tune in to hear the story behind the tradition, Ards Rhymers Co Down and Kilnaleck Wren boys and Wren girls will perform and The Aughakillymaude Community Mummers who are based in Knockninny, Derrylin Co Fermanagh will tell the story of the Aughakillymaude Mummers, widely known as much for their unusual sounding town land name where they all hail from (Aughakillymaude meaning the wooden field of the wild dog), have unwittingly become the unofficial cultural ambassadors for rural Fermanagh. The sixteen strong motley mummers troupe have literally been tramping the roads at all ungodly hours bringing luck, diversion and mayhem by re-enacting and performing an ancient mid winter hero/combat folk drama that is heavily pregnant with all the pagan symbolism of a mid winter European fertility play.

For the mummers there is no hullabaloo over “keeping on” the annual folk tradition of mumming (never mind their playing of an ancient pastime of outdoor wooden skittles in the centre yard). Indeed, for ordinary rural Fermanagh folk mumming is identified with being both enjoyable and chaotic, and being a commonly accepted excuse to “act the blaggard” and cause all sorts of ructions by “storming in” uninvited into settled homes, and peaceable pubs and halls. So listen for the call on St Stephens Day 10am with Martin Donohoe and friends and call out “The wren, oh the wren, he’s the king of all birds, On St. Stephen’s Day he got caught in the furze,

So it’s up with the kettle and it’s down with the pan, Won’t you give us a penny for to bury the wren? “

The Programme will broadcast on St Stephen’s Day on Shannonside Radio and Northern Sound Radio

Contact Martin Donohoe Mobile: 00353 862342270 Website: Has all the Nyah Group Festival info Email:

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