Wren Boys and Mummers

We’d cover a townland a night, maybe thirty or forty houses.

 The word would go round.  They’d be watching you (expecting).  We’d get a couple of bob a house.  It was all walking – no bicycles!  The craic on the road would be good.  And we’d have our own music from the musicians.  


The money was all put together and went to host the Mummers Dance.  The Mummers themselves, the players, would get two or three bottles free at the dance.  Nobody paid in. 


You’d know your own rhyme but you’d pick up the others from listening to them.


Here comes I Doctor Brown

I’m the best wee doctor in the town

I cud cure all diseases that ever come out

The Hurdy-Gurdy and the Gout

I cud cure an oul’ woman wit’ her teeth hanging out

And if you don’t believe what I say

Here comes …. And he’ll clear the way.


Here comes I Diddley Doubt

The tail of me shirt is hanging out

I cud ate a pudding, I cud ate a pan

If I don’t get something I’ll ate a man

And if you…


Here comes I, the Last of the Lot

I hope these wee fellas will not be forgot

We’ll have bottles of whiskey and barrels of beer

And we wish yous all a Happy Christmas

And a bright New Year.


Then the music ‘ud start, maybe an oul’ waltz.  We’d pair off and dance around the kitchen floor.  When we reached the dur, we’d dance out.  Then it was the next pair.


‘I played Wee Dibbley Doubt,’ Peter McKeown of Dungooley explained.  Though in his late eighties now he spoke easily of his mother and father as would one still in his youth.  
‘There was nine or ten of us walking the roads. We’d be dressed in whatever garb we could find, hitched with straw ropes round the middle.  If your face wasn’t blackened, you’d wear a false face.  Sure I did it for years in me own house and devil the one knowed me.  There was one time mammy had three cakes of bread cooling on the dresser.  I lifted one and shoved it under me clothing. 
Man, we had the grand feast down at the crossroads, and it still war-um!
I didn’t steal off none but me own, mind ye!
Then we might go into Cross(maglen) [about five-six miles away].  Takings was better there with more houses to visit.  We might get

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