Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another take on the Straw-Boys

STRAW-BOYS: An Ancient Custon still Observed in IRELAND, THE GRAFIC, JULY 8, 1911 "From time immemorial a strange wedding custom has been observed in the West of Ireland, young men- known as the Straw-Boys- who have not been invited to the ceremony, and who care to present themselves in the disguise shown in our picture, being allowed to join in the festivities and control all the arrangements for a couple of hours."
illustration by E. A. Morrow

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck - Customs in Ireland:

Straw-boys activity occurred mostly in the west of Ireland. Groups of revelers wearing pointed top hats, masks, and skirts of straw arrived uninvited at wakes and weddings where they sang, danced, played music and games and generally performed acts of buffoonery often of a risque sexual nature. They were welcomed because it was believe that they brought good luck to the families involved. The entertainment value was probably considerable. The masks and outlandish attire was supposed to hide the identity of the individual and allow complete freedom from his inhibitions. However, I would imagine that in the small rural environments where these festivities were most popular everyone would have pretty much known everyone else and this was a case of who was kidding whom.

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