Originally posted 2004-12-22 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
The poem of John Hewitt reproduced below is particularly poignant for me, because my mother remembers the Christmas Rhymers at Sheetrim in the very same time period, that is, c.1941, and the fictional, often historical characters they played out. There will be more on the Mummers, as they also were called, later, and the script of their dramas.
For now, enough to congratulate Pat Maginn of Bessbrook who revived the custom and has a Rhymers Group, and the Armagh Rhymers, who are excellent and whose costumes are highly impressive – perhaps just a little too polished! Hewitt called his poem
The Christmas Rhymers, Ballynure, 1941: an old woman remembers
The Christmas Rhymers came again last year,
wee boys with blackened faces at the door,
not like those strapping lads that would appear,
dressed for the mummers’ parts in times before,
to act the old play on the kitchen floor;
at warwork now or fighting overseas,
my neighbours sons; there’s hardly one of these
that will be coming back here any more.
I gave them coppers, bid them turn and go;
and as I watched that rueful regiment
head for the road, I felt that with them went
those songs we sang, the rhymes we used to know,
heartsore imagining the years without
The Doctor, Darkie and Wee Divil Doubt.
In case you’re labouring under the misconception that there is no Ulster-Scots culture or tradition, let me inform you that John Hewitt is right there, to the forefront, and one of my favourite poets!
Originally posted 2004-06-19 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Originally posted 2005-01-03 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
‘There wasn’t a lot of flax-growing in Fathom those days.
It’s a very stalky plant, dark green at first, turning light green. It produces a lovely blue flower. It was the phloem – inside – of the plant that was valuable as linen thread. Harvesters pulled it physically out of the ground. It was gathered in bunches -beets, they were called – sheaves about two feet in diameter. There were twelve beets to a stook, the twelfth laid crosswise over the others, to determine the dozen. It was a hard pull, especially from clay soil that hardened in the summer time.
Originally posted 2004-02-10 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Originally posted 2005-01-19 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Skipping, hop-scotch and juggling up to three balls against a wall were the exclusive pursuits of young girls in my day. All were accompanied by rhymes either short or long. I was envious that this ‘poetry’ was not for us boys, and gob-smacked that every girl knew them all by heart. I would be delighted if any older ‘girl’ who remembers those I do not, would contact the Journal with their words! Below are just a few that I do recall.
When I was young I had no sense
I bought a fiddle for eighteen pence
But the only tune that I could play
Was ‘Over the hills and far away’.
Originally posted 2004-03-02 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Originally posted 2004-11-15 00:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter