Monday, 5 October 2015

Straw Boys, John Relihan and more from Listowel Races 2015

Ballyduff Farmer in The Farmers' Journal

John O'Regan, Dairy and Tillage Farmer, Ardoughtar Cross, Ballyduff, Co Kerry celebrating National Potato Day            Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan

Strawing In

This photograph of straw boys in Milstreet, Co. Cork was posted on Facebook by Tom Healy.

I googled straw boys and this is what I found.

"Whenever they started, the Straw Boys seem to have survived in modern Irish life – at least in the western counties of Ireland where they almost certainly originated. They’re most often described as an exceptionally odd bunch of party crashers – young men who appear suddenly at a wedding, possibly uninvited, and dance with the bride and groom before departing as swiftly as they arrived. The only thing thats consistent in all the stories about them is the way they conceal their identities behind stylized hats made of straw.
Still Dancing
Many present-day accounts say that the Straw Boys still appear at weddings from the Achill Island area (northwest county Mayo) on down through the middle west. They’re familiar enough, in fact, that some wedding planners offer Straw Boys as a feature you can choose, along with champagne and chocolate cake, from the standard event menu. For about $250, you can apparently have a group of 4-5 of these fellows enter the dinner room, accompanied by a fiddle, dance around the tables for a few minutes, and then lift the bride from her chair and carry her out to the dance floor to begin the “Ceili.”
According to Jane Fitzgerald, speaking on a wedding website, “they were boys who rustled cattle. After the job, theyd avoid capture by dressing in straw hats and sneaking into a wedding. Theyd drink and dance but never talk. Eventually they got to be a sign of good luck. Its called strawing a wedding. Another wedding planner advertizes Straw Boys who dance around the bride and groom to protect them from evil spirits. But many traditional accounts say the boys don’t appear at the wedding at all, but at the brides house before the wedding. Several other writers say that in olden days, weddings were usually for family members only, and that the Straw Boys led a delegation of friends into the town square to welcome the bride and groom home from their honeymoon."

My memory of straw boys is not of this hired entertainment but of local lads who came to the house of the newly married couple when they returned from their honeymoon and demanded a party. They were usually half expected and the singing and dancing went on all night.


Coming to a Screen near You

Look out for John Relihan from Duagh  cooking up a storm with Jamie Oliver on Top Secret BBQ. Coming to our TVs in January…..especially for those who love meat!


More from Ladies Day 2015


Book Recommendation for You

Jason of Ballybunion Prints took this photo of Mike Flahive at his  beloved Bromore Cliffs.

Mike is one of the contributors to this book of 50 stories of growing up and living in rural Ireland. The book was launched at The Ploughing Championships 2015.

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