St Stephen’s Day and the Wren Boys


Clare, 26 December –

Clare Wren Boys .

The Rev James Grahame, curate of Kilrush (Noted before 1816);

‘Formerly the youth of the whole district combined as wren boys, but now they go in bands of from two to six, and the wren bush is often a mere branch with a few rags and no wren. A structure of  evergreens, in general design like a crux ansate, covered with streamers and with the dead bird hung up or in a sort of cage, was till lately carried around. There is still to be found tolerable dancing and singing, as a break in the weary succession of small begging parties, shuffling and playing stupid bulfoonery.

The verses usually begin with:

“The wran, the wran, the king of all the birds,

On Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.”

but the next lines are greatly varied:

“Although he is little his family is great,

And (or…

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