Straw Boys
Cultural Traditions
Straw Boys - An Irish Tradition

While mummers plays are traditional throughout the British Isles, Western Ireland has its own unique version of mumming with a unique costume.

Cultural Origins

An example of the straw boys mumming tradition is exemplified by The Straw Boys of Armagh.  Along with other groups in the West of Ireland, they perform fully disguised by headpieces and costumes woven from straw and sackcloth.

“…Winter nights in Ireland are black and long. A sharp wet wind often rises through them. Midwinter is a time to sit by the fire, safe in the family’s circle, waiting for the days to lengthen and warm. It is no time for venturing out into cold darkness. The ground is hard, the winds bitter. But for two and a half centuries, and possibly for many years before them, young men braved the chilly lanes, rambling as mummers from house to house, brightening country kitchens at Christmas with a comical drama. Their play, compact, poetical, and musical, introduced an antic crew and carried one character through death and resurrection…”

– Henry Glassie, All Silver and No Brass, Preface