Happy Day of the Wren

Reposting from 2011

Happy St Stephen’s Day…or Boxing Day (if you must).

I hope you’re all feeling rested after yesterday’s celebrations and food!

Back home (in Ireland), the 26th was historically celebrated as The Day of the Wren – Lá an Dreoilín. It is believed that this tradition emerged out of older Pagan or Druidic rituals, co-opted into Christian celebrations.

In the olden days; the Wrenboys/Strawboys/Mummers (originally male only, though later young women were allowed to join) would capture an actual wren and mounted it (ALIVE) onto a staff pole decorated with ribbons. This was later changed and a fake bird was hidden, rather than hunted. They would then travel throughout the local town seeking donations. The money raised would be used to throw a huge party that very evening – one the whole town would attend. Any money left over would be passed  onto the local schools.

The Clancy Brothers popularised the song below: (with tin whistle notations for any who want to give it a go!)

The[D] wren, the wren, the king of all birds 
on St. [G]Stephen’s Day got [A]caught in the furze 
So it’s [D]up with the kettle and down with the pan 
[G]give us a [A]penny to [D]burry the wren

As I was gone to Killenaule 
I met the wren upon the wall 
I upped with me wattle and knocked him down 
and brought him into Carrick town

Little bird, little bird, where is your nest? 
‘Tis in the bush that I love best 
It’s in the tree, the holly tree 
where all the boys do follow me

We followed the wren three miles or more 
three miles or more, three miles or more 
We followed the wren three miles or more 
at six o’clock in the morning

I have a little box under me arm 
under me arm, under me arm 
I have a little box under me arm 
a penny or tuppence’ll do it no harm

Mrs. O’Gill is a very good woman
a very good woman, a very good woman
Mrs. O’Gill is a very good woman
she gave us a penny to bury the wren

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