St.Stephens Day

In Ireland, the day is one of nine official public holidays.
In Irish, it is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín – the latter translates literally as another English name used, the Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day. When used in this context, “wren” is often pronounced “ran”. This name alludes to several legends, including those found in Ireland, linking episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren. Although now mostly a discontinued tradition, in certain parts of Ireland persons carrying either an effigy of a wren or an actual caged wren [live or dead], travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing. Depending on which region of the country, they are called Wrenboys and Mummers. A Mummer’s Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, County Galway and Dingle County Kerry. St Stephen’s Day is also a popular day for visiting family members. A popular rhyme, known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers goes as follows (this version popularized by the Irish group The Clancy Brothers):
The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great,
Jump up me lads and give us a treat.
As I was going to Killenaule,
I met a wren upon the wall.
Up with me wattle and knocked him down,
And brought him in to Carrick Town.
Drooolin, Droolin, where’s your nest?
Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree,
Where all the boys do follow me.
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
And give us a penny to bury the wren.
I followed the wren three miles or more,
Three miles or more three miles or more.
I 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 would do it no harm.
Mrs. Clancy’s a very good woman,
a very good woman, a very good woman,
Mrs. Clancy’s a very good woman,
She give us a penny to bury the wren.
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