FOLLOWING our current have a look at native mumming, we proceed our examination of the traditional, enduring people custom, and a few of the variations seen in native mummer teams and figures.
Previous Christmases witnessed a mumming pageantry of drama, music, dance, music and poetry with mummers’ musicians, devices, dancers, songsters and storytellers including to the jollity of their nightly forays.
Whereas blowing searching horns introduced the mummers’ arrival, the Maguiresbridge Hogmanay males merely used a bushy ned, roped belt with hooked up empty syrup tin cans, pierced with holes and partly stuffed with pebbles.
Monies scarce, the absence of musical devices and a great musician was commonplace, so mummers created primitive sounds and rhythms reminiscent of ‘combing’ ¬– that’s, by urgent lips onto brown paper, wrapped thinly round combs and blowing intensely.
Mouth music, both whistling or lilting, enabled dancing to happen. Lilting (diddling) was referred to as ‘jaw music’, or ‘puss music’.
Mummers performed one of many world’s oldest devices, referred to as the jaw’s/jew’s harp.
Additionally referred to as ‘the trump’, the miniature jaw’s/jew’s harp produced a twang sound, which modified by altering the form of the mouth and shifting the tongue.
One other mouth instrument utilized by mummers was the harmonica, additionally referred to as ‘the mouth organ’ or ‘French fiddle’.
One other impoverished instrument in early mumming was spoons, which have been performed as a makeshift percussion instrument by hitting the concave backs of 1 tablespoon in opposition to the opposite.
Usually performed with the palm of fingers repeatedly shifting down in the direction of the knees and again upwards once more, the spoons sharply hit one another, producing totally different sounds, rhythms and rattles.
Dry spare ribs (bones) of animals have been used earlier than the introduction of spoons produced an analogous sound.
In Ederney, the only real musician was a bagpiper lending a hand for the night time.
In the course of the coldness of mid-Winter, preserving the bagpipes heat till the “marching in” tune could be “struck up” was remedied by the bagpiper carrying a scorching water bottle subsequent to the pores and skin of the pipes.
As soon as constituted of canine’ pores and skin, bodhrans ¬– as a home-made, open-ended, willow-framed drum – emerged from a farm sieve utilized in winnowing corn, and have been extraordinarily standard amongst mummers.
The bodhran’s deep, hole sound was susceptible to Winter climate, ensuing within the goatskin or leather-based pores and skin loosening.
Latterly, snare (kettle) drums with artificial skins and tightening snares changed bodhrans, offering a thundering warning of mummers approaching.
Mummers joined collectively to buy a melodeon, thereby the title a “joined melodeon”.
Generally referred to as ‘the squeeze field’, music field, accordion or concertina, accordion gamers such Jim McGrath (Monea mummers) are referred to as ‘field gamers’.
The Clarkes’ tin penny whistles and the music from the live performance flute, by John Joe ‘The Puck’ Maguire, had the ear, fingers and soul of his flute when taking part in for each the Aughakillymaude and Kinawley mummers.
Over time, devices grew to become private possessions of the musician, as was the case with the fiddle of legendary Sean Dan Maguire, who performed greater than 70 years with mummers, strawboys and wrenboys.
Musicians typically tried music out on the spot! They could have simply heard a march tune simply a few times, however they’d give it a go.
Gaining consent, mummers ‘ploughed’ into the guts of the family with a ‘Marching In’ tune, with the following interlude for music being the efficiency of a jig to coincide with the beginning of comical fight.
Protaganists – Prince Patrick and Prince George – as a substitute of duelling, have been ‘seamlessly seduced’ by music from the reel, and turned the fight on its head by jostling in a dancing movement, with the absurd clashing of wood swords preserving time with the music.
With the fallen hero feigning dying, the musician instinctively started a sluggish, melodic air (lament) conducive to his impending dying.
Its function was to impinge unhappiness and, of necessity, was at all times a sluggish air born of mourning or remorse.
The musicians’ opening for celebratory music got here instantly submit the odious struggle, when dancers amongst the mummers would instinctively dance by the rendition of a reel with a ‘good elevate’ in it!
Taking part in at a brisk, dance tempo, the dancers would depend on each preserving the time and consistent with the rhythmic impact of the music for his or her foot actions.
Impressed by musicians who understood the dance kinds, dancers would whirl the ground with precision and magnificence.
Dancing in entrance of the fireplace was revered by dancers, particularly when it was customary to ‘pull out’, firstly, the ladies of the family for social interplay.
If neither residents nor mummers had dancing abilities, mummers resorted to ‘shuffling’, typically with minimize sparable boots, armoured with tip and toe plates, i.e. a type of dancing on one spot, with toes stored near the bottom.
Mummers disported themselves by entertaining and involving everybody by getting their neighbours out dancing.
By having a set of sluggish waltz tunes, lasting longer than the play itself, this might wind up the go to.
The Belcoo mummers have been unquestionably the standard set dancers of excessive renown.
Staging both a half set (4 hand dancers) or a full set (eight hand dancers), they danced with inventive interlacing and unwinding actions at very brisk speeds, to high-tempo reels.
Having only one good dancer, the musician would possible play a hornpipe to permit for a show of heavy step dancing, with both Harvey leather-based sneakers and even hobnailed boots.
Mummers have been identified to throw matches onto concrete flooring, the place friction from the nails on boots struck the matches alight.
Mummers additionally put wax shaving of candles onto flooring to ease and improve their whirling.
Sean-nós dancing was the showpiece of the Toura mummers, and twin brothers, Johnny and Paddy McGee, have been foremost at exhibiting face dancing, such because the clap dance.
Sean-nós dances, such because the half-door dance, was carried out both singularly or by the dual brothers on an area or flooring protecting not more than the scale of a half door.
Undoubtedly, there was no higher man at demonstrating the comb/broom dance with a besom broom than Dessie Reilly of Aughakillymaude.
Ballyshannon faculty mummers’ group dance was the distinctive “pot stick dance”, initially from the Drumbad space (Belleek), which has the remnants of English Morris Dance affect.
The Ederney mummers showcased the Sq. Highland, involving 4 males at shut quarters, because it didn’t take up a lot area in households, and didn’t contain swinging.
As a Highland was a fling, it lent to being carried out rapidly, enabling mummers to depart sooner.
The Fermanagh or Donegal Highlands variations have been danced by simply two dancers, and are closely weighted with Scottish connotations.
The Highlands flings are referred to by Fermanagh’s dancers as ‘the Schottische’, or ‘Cetish’.
With bigger venues, musicians taking part in North Kerry polkas and Fermanagh kick polka with two dancers – which allowed for swinging – had the musicians even imitating the dancers’ actions.
Notably, the jig for Christmas referred to as ‘Paddy’s Return’ was performed marking the returning of ex-pats from England.
After music, drama and dancing, a singer would sing a ballad of native significance, or a light-hearted yarn on folks grappling with the frailties of the human physique, issues of the guts, and life’s trials and tribulations.
Consideration was additionally afforded to the storytelling narrative of mummers, the place the farcical spinning out of a yarn introduced a lot laughter.
Marking the tip, a two-hand reel was performed because the Captain led mummers exterior, however unbeknownst and hidden beneath their ‘get-up’, mummers secretly had taken bread for pure devilment.