Wren Boys

First Sunday Céilí focuses on the theme of Wren Boys. Hope t see you at the Doric Lodge in Fremont this sunday at 4.00 pm.
We will have live music, dance instruction, food and lots of cultural exchange.

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze;
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Pray give us a penny to bury the wran.

Wren Boys – a short thought parable….

Morans

Irish people love to celebrate. Short days, dark evenings -
A time of year is the best for gathering and singing songs or dancing

Christmas has its own celebratory connections with Ireland. But none so incised as the Wren Boys festivities that are still practices in rural and urban locations throughout the country and indeed beyond the borders. Here is brief history of our love of this festive occasion.

La_Dreoilin_2

Strawboy and wren boys playing fiddle, accordion and tin whistle at Lios Buí, 1952

Irish tradition holds that the wren symbolizes the old year, while the robin symbolizes the year to come. To ensure that the passage from old year to new could take place, it was once common practice on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) for a group of local boys to hunt and kill a wren. The  Wren Boys traveled from house to house with the wren was tied to a pole and decked with ribbons. They regaled each house with musical laments for the unfortunate bird along with pleas to raise money for the funeral.

La_Dreoilin_3

Wren Boys traveling from house to house on Cape Clear island, Co Cork.

The wren is villified because it had betrayed Irish soldiers who were staging an attack on the invading Norsemen (who had been responsible for the destructions of the some of the great monastic communities of early Christendom, such as Abbey at Kells). Pecking at some bread crumbs left upon a drum, the wren betrayed the hiding place of the Irish and led to their defeat. Other myths hold that the wren betrayed St. Stephen himself with its chirping, leading to the first martyrdom of a Christian saint. In Ireland the day is called Lá an Dreoilín (Day of Wren).

La_Dreoilin

Piseogs are associated with the Wren Boys festival.

In some parts of the country, it was unwise to not respond to the wren boys pleas for food and drink and indeed money. The last thing a farmer wanted was to have the wren buried on his land, because it was sure to bring bad luck – cows sick, children sick, wife unfaithful. Piseogs like this are alive and well in Ireland today. A piseog is a superstition.

Mo cheoil sibh!

Ciarán

 

Irish Roots

What does DNA tell us about our Irishness?

Are you Irish? How do you know? This article gives us a different view of who we taught we were. It was put together by Marie McKeown, a lady from Donegal who is Irish but is questioning the handed down information that she received growing up.

IMG_7826

Irish music, dance, storytelling is part of who we are

The Blood in Irish veins is Celtic, right? Well, not exactly. Although the history many Irish people were taught at school is the history of the Irish as a Celtic people, the truth is much more complicated, and much more interesting than that …

Research done into the DNA of Irish males has shown that the previous attempts to define ‘Irish’ may have been misguided. As late as the 1950s researchers were busy collecting data among Irish people such as hair colour and height, in order to categorise them as a ‘race’ and define them as different to the British. In fact British and Irish people are closely related in their ancestry.

Research into Irish DNA and ancestry has revealed close links with Scotland stretching back to before the Ulster Planation of the early 1600s. But the closest relatives to the Irish according to studies of male DNA are actually from somewhere else entirely!

Band Practice

in Fremont. Thursday evening at 6.30 we will set up in the back of Charles Hadron’s Wright Brothers Bike shop. We are trying out a new sound and some new sets. If you are free and want to help out, feel free to stop by.

 

Thanks to everyone today who brought food for our monthly céilí. It was delicious. And a special call out to the musicians who played great tunes today. Next month, each of the people agreed to spread the word and bring at least one new person to introduce to dance, food and culture from Ireland.

Music is the spice of life in Fremont.

Get up the yard.