Friday, 5 February 2010

The West Clare Wrenboys

The West Clare Wren, Kilbaha, County Clare, 12th December 1979. Hornpipe: The Harvest Home; Reel: The Duke of Leinster. Posted on Youtube by clarebannerman who says: "On the 26th December each year the Wrenboys take to the road. They visit each house in the locality playing music, dancing, singing and reciting poems. The style of set dancing in Clare is symbolised by the 'battering' or foot tapping that goes on in time with the music. In Ireland, St. Stephen's Day is the day for 'Hunting the Wren' or 'Going on the Wren'. Originally, groups of small boys would hunt for a wren, and then chase the bird until they either have caught it or it has died from exhaustion. The dead bird was tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, which was decorated with ribbons or colored paper. Early in the morning of St. Stephen's Day, the wren was carried from house to house by the boys, who wore straw masks or blackened their faces with burnt cork, and dressed in old clothes."

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