Christmas in the Dingle peninsula Pt 1

Lá an Dreolín, or Wrens Day, is an Irish tradition that takes place on the 26th of December each year, known as St Stephen’s Day.
The tradition of Lá an Dreoilín, is thriving in the town of Dingle Co Kerry, with residents of the town taking part in a number of Wren groups, parading around the town, while hundreds line the streets and join in the festivities.

Traditionally musicians would march wearing straw ‘rigs’, and other accessories made of straw, but now, anything goes! From glitz and glam, to the downright bizzare, as each street in Dingle town wear colours indicative of the Wren they represent.
“Hunting the Wren” is a tradition that is believed to pre-date Christian times. It sounds pretty cruel, where basically the tiny bird is captured, killed and tied to a pole. Local musicians and dancers known as Mummers, Strawboys or Wrenboys would then dress in garish disguises and go house to house collecting money, food and drink for a party. Fortunately the killing stopped a few centuries ago.

The myth most commonly told in Ireland to explain the festival is as follows; God wished to know who was the king of all birds so he set a challenge. The bird who flew highest and furthest would win. The birds all began together but they dropped out one by one until none were left but the great eagle. The eagle eventually grew tired and began to drop lower in the sky. At this point, the treacherous wren emerged from beneath the eagle’s wing to soar higher and further than all the others. This belief is shown in the song that begins:

“The wren, the wren, the King of All Birds, St. Stephen’s Night got caught in the furze.”

This also illustrates the tradition of hunting the wren on Christmas Day (St. Stephen’s Eve/Night)

The tradition may also have been influenced by Scandinavian settlers during the Viking invasions of the 8th to 10th centuries though it is usually attributed to the “Christianising” of old pagan festivals by saints to ease the transition and promote conversion.Various associated legends exist, such as a wren being responsible for betraying Irish soldiers who fought the Vicking invadersby beating its wings on their shields, in the late 1st and early 2nd millennia, and for betraying the Christian martyr Saint Stephen, after whom the day is named. This mythological association with treachery is a possible reason the bird was hunted by wrenboys on St. Stephen’s Day, or why a pagan sacrificial tradition was continued into Christian times. Despite the abandonment of killing the wren, devoted wrenboys continue to ensure that the Gaelic tradition of celebrating the wren continues, although it is no longer widespread.[9]

Photojournalism, dingle, Cokerry, Wrenday,irishtradition,heritage

Dublin Docklands 2022

Over the years I’ve been documenting the gradual rejuvenation of Dublin city. Not always seen as popular while many see it as progress, with the exorbitant apartment rentals, emerging foreign tech companies and financial companies displacing existing the ‘community’ population. An area that was in serve decline in the 80’s with dereliction, social and economic problems. Budget permitting you’d never be hungry, thirsty or short of a Latte or two.