Saturday 21 July 2018

Spirits high as Wrens march through rain-sodden Dingle

Gavin, Granie and Kayla Garnon from Dingle in the Green and Gold Wren Boys Photo: Domnick Walsh
Gavin, Granie and Kayla Garnon from Dingle in the Green and Gold Wren Boys Photo: Domnick Walsh
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

Rain teemed down relentlessly and the wind held a biting chill but the man beneath the hobbyhorse was rearing to giddy up - and the first 'Wren' was out.

Captain Noel Ó Murchú marched up and down between the lines, making sure his banner men, John Martin and 'Big John' Griffin, were ready, his straw men neatly lined up ahead of the fife and drum band, followed by the horde that had assembled with faces painted and decked out in the colours that pledged their allegiance. Sword pointed and bellowing the words, 'Go on the Green and Gold', they were off.

The first group of four was on the march in Dingle, Co Kerry, for the annual Wren's Day parade.

They took off from their headquarters at O'Flaherty's pub in Bridge Street, making their way up The Mall.

Maria Doyle from Wexford dances with Mark Stanton of the Ballyragget Wren Boys in the Co Kilkenny village, where the Wren is also celebrated Photo: Pat Moore
Maria Doyle from Wexford dances with Mark Stanton of the Ballyragget Wren Boys in the Co Kilkenny village, where the Wren is also celebrated Photo: Pat Moore

Paul Cashen from Grey's Lane has been filling the role for four decades - a throwback to the town's Spanish influence in the annual mardi gras.

"You've got to perform and do your dance in theatrical theme," he said.

At the junction with John Street, the Sráid Éoin Wren held back at their starting point outside the Barrack Heights, giving way until the rival group had passed.

"If they hadn't given us right of way we would have taken it," said the captain who's been leading the Green and Gold Wren for 35 years.

At the junction of Main Street and Green Street, the Goat Street Wren was waiting to let the first group pass before it began its first round of the town.

A sodden bunch turned up at The Wood some 30 minutes later, where residents greeted them with blackcurrant drinks for the children, and something stronger for the adults.

In Tommy Sheehy's house, the group assembled as they've done for generations, the roast beef sandwiches and the drop to wash it down welcome.

"My father used to do it before me and we always had the wren in the house and everybody's welcome," Mr Sheehy told the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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