Monday, December 26, 2011

Dancing at the crossroads, for real

I thought you folks might like this clip of the Curtlestown wren boys playing at my local crossroads which is a rural Irish tradition on St. Stephen's Day. These days no wren is hunted or killed as was the pre-Christian custom but the wren boys (and girls) still wear the traditional raggy clothes, straw "mummers" hats and disguise themselves. Many years ago the wren boys hunted a wren through the hedgerows which eventually came to a sticky end, poor thing. The wren had a lot of negative beliefs associated with it but as those superstitions passed the musical tradition lived on. In many areas of rural Ireland you will see the the wren boys out on St. Stephen's Day; playing traditional Irish music and collecting for local charities once the short concert ends. This is dancing at the crossroads for real, and even in the times we live in we had couples waltzing, a slip reel danced by a very competant Irish dancer and I even did a few turns myself with my small daughter. The first clip is of my neighbours dancing a waltz and below that is the handsomely attired tiger wren doing a short number with a brush. Enjoy x


  1. I love it Suzanne, thanks for sharing those clips. I remember as a child there would be many out hunting the Wren but there have been none around here in years. Such a pity! I actually didn't realise how this tradition started. Poor thing indeed!

  2. Yes thank God the skewering the wren on a stick element has gone from the custom. It seems there were all sorts of mad beliefs about wrens, including that they betrayed Irish troops in a crucial battle by beating their wings on a drum. I hope the tradition of "the wren" doesn't die as these practises are what make rural Ireland what it is