Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/239

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Collectanea. 207

up or in a sort of cage/ was till lately :arried around. There is still sometimes to be found tolerable dancing and singing, as a break in the weary succession of small begging parties, shuffling and playing stupid buffoonery. The verses usually begin : —

" The vvran, the wran, the king of all birds, On Stephen's Day was caught in the furze."

but the next lines are greatly varied : — " Although he is little, his family is great, And (or So) I pray you all ladies {or good Christians) to give him a treat."

I noted the following haunting lines on Stephen's Day in 1909 : —

  • ' Put your hand in your pocket and take out your purse

And give us some money to bury the wran."

Equally melodious were lines in vogue some thirty years ago : —

" We broke his bones with sticks and stones, And give us some money to get us a drink. "

There was another form, evidently from an " artificial " source, heard by my elder brothers about Carnelly, perhaps sixty years ago

or more : —

" Landlady, Landlady, give us some cheer, Landlady, Landlady, give us some beer. If you give us of the best. We'll pray your soul in Heaven may rest. If you give us of the worse, We'll pray it will {or may) be quite the reverse."

It was generally believed that St. Stephen had hid in a cave, and that his retreat had been betrayed to his enemies by the wren. Mummers are now reappearing, after a long lapse of time, among the wren boys.

Another practice which my predecessors often saw before the Famine was the carrying of a sort of scarecrow figure, to represent St. Brigit, by women in August about the Clare Castle district. St. Brigit's rites in some places take place on Lady Day (August 15th).

Killing an animal, or a goose, at Martinmas and a goose at Michaelmas are of recent occurrence. On St. John's Eve I have, as a child, leaped over or passed between fires, and been told of cattle being forced to do the same. About 1895 very few bonfires were lighted, and the custom appeared likely to expire, but of late the

^ A somewhat similar wren's cage has been procured for the National Museum, Dublin.