Friday 15 December 2017

Crowds on the march for festive hunting

Members of the Green and Gold Wren get set for ‘The Wren’ march in Dingle Town, Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Members of the Green and Gold Wren get set for ‘The Wren’ march in Dingle Town, Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Members of the Green and Gold wren from Dingle
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

HEAVY downpours didn't detract from the enjoyment of 'The Wren' where hundreds joined in the ancient tradition of hunting the king of all birds.

The St Stephen's Day festivities, which have been cherished for generations, got under way around lunchtime with the usual mix of music, dance, banter and high jinx.

Hunting clubs all over the country also held their annual hunts which, like the wren boy festivities, raise thousands of euro for charity.

In Dingle, Co Kerry, 'The Wran', as it's pronounced locally, continues to thrive.

Hundreds of spectators, including visitors from the US, joined locals, many in costume, for the spectacle. Preparations began weeks in advance with each wren group making costumes, known as straws, from reeds.

The John Street Wren were joined by American folk singer Patty Griffin, who was in town for the 'Other Voices' festival.

Griffin's grandmother Mary O'Connor was born on John Street and undoubtedly would also have "gone out on the wran" on St Stephen's Day.

There was the usual showdown when The Quay and the Green and Gold Wren came face to face outside St Mary's Church on Green Street and heckling, banter but ultimately more music making ensued.

Meanwhile, in Sandymount in Dublin, the 29th annual 'Wren Boys' celebration was equally colourful. Proceeds from this year's event go to the Order of Malta Ireland's midwifery degree programme at the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, about 140 riders lined out in Abbeyleix for Laois Hunt's St Stephen's Day fox hunt -- an event that dates back over 200 years.

Master of the hunt, David Lalor, thanked the landowners for allowing the meeting to go ahead.

"It was a very enjoyable day and everyone came home happy and in one piece, apart from a few scratched faces," he added.

Irish Independent

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