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  1. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 031

    On St Stephens Day the people go round with the wren. The bigger boys put false faces on them so that they would not be known. Some of the big boys bring a wren in a jam pot, while others bring a stick with a match box and a feather on the end of it. Some songs are songs are sung such as "the wren the wren the King of all birds St Stephens Day she was caught in the furze though she was small her family is great rise up young lady and give us a treat.
  2. The Wren Boys

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    the wren boys go around gathering money to bury the wren. They go around all day and when night comes they divide the money equally among them. There were more wren boys in former years than at present. Some of the wren boys go together and have a dance. Others of them go to the town and enjoy themselves after their long day's travelling.
  3. A Story of the Wren

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    Leathanach 32

    Some people would tell you that it is not right to let a wren build in the eaves of houses because when St. Stephen was going to be killed, he hid up in a tree but the wren [give?] gave some sign to his enemies telling them where he was and he was stoned to death, therefore it is said that the wren is a bad bird. It is said that if every egg that the wren (would) lays, if it were broken that it would lay and lay away until it would die.
  4. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 475

    St Stephens day occurs on the day after Christmas Day. On that day the people go around looking for money. In some districts boys go (around) out hunting for the wren and they make a little box and put him in, and they go around singing "help the wren."
    In our own town a crowd of boys dress themselves in torn clothes in a way they would not be known and they go around singing and dancing.
    The words sung are, "help the wren" and the wren the wren the king of all birds on St Stephens
  5. Local Customs

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    one another, the boy and the girl will marry. St. Stephen's day people go from house to house gathering money. They carry a dead wren on a holly bush, and they have a song about the wren, which goes like this. "The wren, the wren, the king of all birds; St. Stephen's day she was caught in the furze. Up with kettle, down with pan, and give us a shilling to bury the wren!" St. Patrick's day falls on the 17th of March but only in Ireland. We wear badges on that
  6. Old Customs

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    If they jump away from one another they would not be ever married. St. Stephen's day the people go from house to house gathering money.
    They carry a dead wren on a holly bush and they have a song about the wren. It goes like this: "The wren, the wren, the king of all birds. St. Stephen's day she was caught in the furze. Up with the kettle, down with the pan; And give us a shilling to bury the wren".
  7. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 199

    St Stephen's Day falls on the 26th December . On that day numbers of school boys go hunting the wren . The Day before St. Stephens day they catch a wren and they put him in a holly bush and they go around from home to house and when they go into each house they say give us some thing to bury the wren . When they go into the house they say 'The wren , the wren , the king of all birds St. Stephen's Day ws caught in the furze ,although she is little her family is great stand up old landlady and vie us a treat. Up with the title and down with the pot give us your answer and let be off . Year's ago the people used to throw loaves of bread against the door in order to keep out the hunger for the year . On New Year's Eve they used also lay a table before they used to go to bed in order to keep the hunger away for the year. They used also put money outside the door so that they would never be short for the year.
  8. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 101

    The boys in my district go following the wren on St. Stephen's Day. They get a stick of holly and puts a wren on top of it or a few brown feathers. Long ago they used to gather about two pounds. On of the neighbours would give them the house to have a dance. All the people would come to this dance. The boys sing; "The wren the wren the king of the birds On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze[?] Up with the kettle and down with the pans Give us a penny to bury the wren."
    St Patrick's Day is on the seventeenth of March and the Irish people all over the world
  9. Parish of Shrule

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    Leathanach 247

    plays a French fiddle and when we finish this the people of the house gives us a penny or more. We go around like this on St. Stephen's Day and on New year's Day. When big men go out hunting the wren sometimes they bring a dead wren with them the people in a house that won't give them any money they threaten to bury the wren on front of their door. The people of the house then get afraid and they give the Wren Boys some money. Because they believe if the wren was buried outside their door they would have bad luck. This is mostly done in the country.
  10. Bird-Lore

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    Leathanach 194

    The Wren: The wren builds it's nest in a low blackthorn hedge. The wren's nest is made of moss. It is a roofed nest. The wren lays fourteen eggs. The colour of the wren's eggs is white with brown spots through them.
    Collected by Gretta Dalton (13), Bracklin, Kilbeggan W'meath.
  11. A Funny Story

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    This story is about Mr.Tom Wren. One day Mr. Wren was making soup out of a goats head. He had it down boiling when a neighbour came in. Mr Wren told the man that he had a goat's head down making soup, and he told the man to wait and he would give him some. So the man waited and Mr Wren went out for turf, and he went out the man put a boot into the soup, and when Mr Wren came in he went to stir the soup and he said to the man "The soup will soon be done. I hear the teeth rattling in the bottom of the pot." but it was really the nails of boot he heard rattling, but anyway he took up the soup and he drank all he was able, and when he was finished he went to take up the goat's head, and instead it was a boot he took up.
  12. Nests

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    Leathanach 249

    After many contests the eagle challenged the other birds. The challenge was that the bird who could fly the highest in the air was to be recognised as King. The others agreed. All got ready & just as the eagle started off the wren perched on its tail unkonwn to the eagle. The eagle flew upwards & upwards until it could go no further. By this time the other birds were far below the eagle & so exhausted that they could go no further. When the eagle saw the others so far below he cried out in truimph that he had won & that he was King. Just then the wren started her short flight above the eagle & to the eagle's astonishment he heard the wren answer that it was he and not the eagle who was King. The eagle was beaten & humbly acknowleged the wren's supremacy & from that day to this the wren is King of all birds
  13. Festival Customs - Hunting the Wren

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    The customs of "hunting the wren" is still carried out in this district. Sometime it is only men and boys and children go to ". They hunt the wren". On St. Stephen's Day the men go to hunt the wren. The boys dress up in all-coloured clothes when they are going to hunt it and they carry a holly bush with coloured ribbons out of it. They bring sticks with them. They go to Garranstackle bogs to hunt it. If they find any wrens they beat them but they do not kill them. When they are done they go home. The rhyme that is said is. "The wren, the wren, the king of all birds, On St Stephen's Day he was caught in the furze."
    This rhyme is said while hunting is going on.
  14. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 384

    For instance in this district on St Stephen's day the custom of singing the wren is observed very keenly. Singing the wren is sometimes a custom of great amusement. Its the young buoys of the country usually keep this tradition active. Four or five days before this festival occurs the boys travel the country in search of a wren because it it supposed that if they have not the wren the tradition is not genuine.
    When the wren is provided they get what is called a wren bush. This bush is holly and is decorated with ribbons of florid colours. They attach the wren to this with a piece of string.
    Early in the morning of St Stephen's Day they go off in companys of three or four in each company. The boy that sings usually holds the bush. They get three or four pence in every house and oranges and pieces of sweet cake in some houses.
    The wren song is as follows -
    The wren, The wren the king of all birds.
    On St Stephen's Day he was caught in the furze
    Although he is little his family is great.
    Cheer up Land Lady and fill us a treat.
    If you fill it of the best I hope in heaven your soul will rest.
    If you fill it of the smallest it will not agree with the wren boys atall.
    Sing Ivy, Sing Holly tis all but a folly.
  15. Festival Customs - St Stephen's Day

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    Some of the boys have music and the rest of the boys dance. They sat a rime and when they go it to the house." The wren, the wren the king of all birds. St Stephens day was caught in the firs. Up with the kettle and down with the pan. Give me some money to bury the wren. When the have all gathered they divided it between them.
    The following is another song that is sung by the wren boys
    The wren the wren the king of all birds St Stephen's day was caught in the firs Although he is little his family is great I pray you good lady give us a treat. My boy would speak if it had but a tongue and a penny or two would do it no wrong and if you haven't a penny a halfpenny will do and if you haven't a halfpenny God bless you.
  16. Bird-Lore

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    robin builds a small nest of moss and hair and feathers. She builds it in a holly bush and she lays about four eggs. The robin eats crumbs and insects such as worms and snails etc. etc.
    The wren which is the smallest of all birds is as important as any of them. He is a fairly good singer. There is no bird has as big a family as the wren. The wren lays sometimes as many as from twelve to fifteen eggs.
    It is said that the wren was the cause of St. Stephens death. When a crowd of people were out looking for St. Stephen a wren began to sing in a bush. The wren attracted the peoples attention and in looking over at the bush they saw St. Stephen hidden in the bush.
  17. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 383

    It is a custom for the boys to go from house to house gathering money on St. Stephen's Day. For weeks before Christmas they prepare for the day. They get ready all sorts of funny clothes. Some get ragged trousers, jackets, broken boots and paper hats. Others get skirts, aprons and women's blouses and they decorate hats with holly ribbons and feathers. They cut a holly bush and ornament it with ribbons. They hunt the wren. If they succeed in killing him they tie him on to the holly bush with ribbons. The wren is very hard to catch, but sometimes they succeed in killing her at night. She flies about from bush to bush and they strike her with a stick. If they cannot procure a wren they get coloured cloth or paper and shape it like a wren and tie it on to the holly bush.
    On St. Stephen's morning they get up early and dress up in their funny clothes. Sometimes there are as many as ten in each group of wren - boys. One boy carries the holly bush on his shoulder and another carries the tin for the money. The wren
  18. Festival Customs

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    Leathanach 382

    It is the custom in this country on St Stephens day for boys to go out from house to house singing the Wren-song.
    The day before St Stephens day all the boys go out and kill a wren. They take a holly-bush on their back and they have a wren on the bush and ribbons at his sides. They sing a song called the Wren-song which runs thus,
    The Wren, the Wren the King of all birds,
  19. St Stephen's Day

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    Leathanach 154

    Following the wren is an old custom still preserved in this district.
    The boys of the neighbourhood collected together a few days beforehand and chased the wren over hedges and ditches until they have a few of them captured. They generally kill the wren before they catch. It is considered a great feat to be able to catch the wren and the boy who does so is considered the hero of the crowd.
    Then they get a holly bush and decorate it with ribbons of all colours and tie the wren and its nest on the bush. Early on St. Stephen's day each boy blackens his face and changes his clothes. Sometimes they wear men's trousers and women's skirts in order to disguise themselves. Then they go from house to house, one boy carrying the wren bush and the others following. They sing at each house and get money from the people. In the evening then they divide the money between them.
  20. Birds

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    Birds
    Birds are to be seen in great numbers in this district. Some birds stay with us all the year round. The cuckoo, corncrake, swallow and other birds leave us for the Winter, and go to Africa, and other warm countries. The wren is supposed to be the smallest bird of all. He is supposed to be the best bird also.One day the wren and the eagle had an argument to see who would fly the highest. So the two of them started to fly. When they were up a little height, the wren flew in under the eagle's wings and was carried up. When the wren was up a great height the wren flew out, and the eagle got frightened, and fell to the ground. So the wren was then crowned the "King of