The Wren Boys, a uniquely Irish tradition.
December 26 sees the Wren Boys march to the beat of bodhran’s (drums) through the lovely coastal village of Sandymount. Join in on the Sandymount Wren Boys Festival, now in its 30th year, and take part in a uniquely Irish tradition, shrouded in mystery, that goes back generations.
The legend goes that one fine morning Irish soldiers were approaching enemy invaders, most likely Vikings, in a surprise attack. Suddenly a small wren started pecking and beating its wings on a drum, waking the intruders and betraying the Irish soldier just before their moment of glory. This little bird is also accused of betraying Saint Stephen with its loud chirping which led his pursuers to his hiding place and his eventual martyrdom.
As a result the wren was traditionally hunted on St. Stephen’s day and paraded around on a stick. While the Sandymount Wren Boys Festival do not parade a dead wren on a holly branch, they don the traditional garb and happily parade through the streets to the sound of music and dancing to celebrate this ancient Irish tradition.