A gathering of mummers and wren boys, the Drogheda festival attracted musicians from counties Donegal, Tyrone, Antrim, Dublin, the midlands and Kerry.
The origins of Mummers and Wren Boys are unclear, but they have been a part of Irish tradition for centuries. They are similar in that both groups go from house to house providing entertainment during winter time.
Both groups perform music, but the distinguishing factor is that Mummers also perform plays, and wear straw masks, or specific types of costume. Wren Boys wear a variety of costumes, usually whatever is to hand, and blacken their faces or don a disguise.
Mummers are led by a “Captain” who announces their arrival and asks for permission to perform. They usually request and receive food or money as a token of gratitude when the performance is over. Wren Boys traditionally turn up to a house unannounced, and only on St Stephen’s Day, the day when they “hunt the wren”, and collect money for its funeral.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 24 January 1977. The reporter is Dermot Mullane.