Wren Boys Procession

One very old tradition in Ireland is the Wren Boys Procession that takes place on St. Stephen’s Day.This goes back to ancient times when a real wren was killed and carried round in a holly bush. Some processions still take place, but no wren is hunted or used. The wren is one of the smallest birds in Ireland, but has a very loud song and is sometimes called the ‘king of all birds’. This is because of the legend of a little wren that rode on the top of an eagle’s head and boasted he had ‘flown higher than an eagle’. Wren’s were hunted for many years throughout Europe in medieval times.It was at one time commonplace in towns all over Ireland, but nowadays you are most likely to see it in the south of Ireland, and Dingle in Co. Kerry is one town where this tradition is very much alive. Young men and women dress up in home made costumes and go from house to house carrying a long pole with a holly bush tied to its top and singing a rhyme about a wren bird. Sometimes they are accompanied with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns.
The rhyme that is often used is:
‘The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
On St. Stephen’s day was caught in the furze.
People also ask for money ‘for the starving wren’ but in fact use the money for themselves or   nowadays, the wren boys use this opportunity to collect money for charity.

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3 Comments »

  1. 1
    ludovicaclass1b Says:

    I have never heard of this tradition before. It is very interesting. However here in Italy we do have many traditions at Christmas time but no-one as fas as I know occur on the 26th which is a national holiday.
    I’ll go and ask my granddad!
    bye for now

  2. 2
    springtimes Says:

    It’s an interesting story.
    Do you join this procession?
    Bye
    Lorenzo

  3. 3
    ludovicaclass1b Says:

    Hi everybody!
    I want to tell you what we usually do during the Xmas time.
    Since my childhood, my family and I, on the 24th December, we go to the church for the Holy Mess. After the celebration, we go to my uncle’s house. Here, all togheter, we have the biggest dinner of the year (because my Grandmum and aunt cook very well). We have fun because we joke and we play “tombola”, the italian version for Bingo!!! At midnight, a man knocks at the door. This man is Santa Claus! He leaves presents for everyone in the livingroom. In front of the door there are a lots of presents. During the night we exchange our presents.
    that’s our tradition for Christmas. I’ve always loved, love and I’ll love Xmas for ever!


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