Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 13:34:08 +0100
From: "Clark, John" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Dingle Wren
>The reference to an English influence on some Irish Wrenboy traditions (but
>not necessarily Dingle) is in one of the websites
you suggested. Quote >In some areas, the Wrenboys are called Mummers and
the festival has a strong English influence, incorporating characters like
And Cromwell appears as a mumming character in some areas (see Glassie's
_All Silver and No Brass_). *Influence* is not the same as origin.
>However, Steve is certainly right that that the inclusion of a hobby horse
>in the Dingle Wrenboys procession is 'odd'.
"Odd" is in the eye of the beholder. It is "odd" only if you think in terms
of its being divergent from a paradigm that *you* have decided is the "true"
paradigm. On the other hand, if you're willing to let it stand on its own
worth and even consider the possibility that it might offer something to
learn from, then there's nothing odd about it.
So instead of looking at the Dingle Wren as an aberration and trying to
force it into the box you've prepared, why not try seeing it on its own
first and only after understanding its use of symbols in its own context,
start comparing it with other, possibly similar customs?
<snip>At first sight, given its current distribution in Ireland and the Isle
of Man, the more general Hunting the Wren ceremony itself looks as if it
ought to be 'Gaelic' rather than generic 'Celtic' (apologies if that is
I fully understand the distinction between "Gaelic" and "Celtic."
May I suggest, however, that before you proceed with your analysis, you
consider the role of the horse in both Brythonic and Gaelic literature. If
you are not familiar with the horse imagery in the Mabinogi, for example,
you might look at Patrick Ford's introduction to his translation of the
Mabinogi. Ford examines the equine imagery within the Brythonic tradition as
well as the apparent parallels in the Gaelic literature and the "Celtic"
remains from the Continent.
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