To mark the commencement of the 2002 mumming season, a festival of mumming featuring performances by mumming groups from across Northern Ireland and the border counties will be held in the Great Hall, Magee Campus, University of Ulster, Derry, on 7 December at 3.00pm. The festival is being organised by the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH) in association with the mumming project Room to Rhyme. The programme will include performances by new and established groups and will feature music and song. Admission to the event is free, and school groups and community organisations wishing to learn more about the tradition of mumming in their home district are encouraged to attend.
Order of Appearance
Mumming has been a feature of life in various parts of Ireland for centuries. In certain localities the Christmas Mummers (‘Christmas Rhymers’ or ‘Hogmanay Men’, as they are also known) are particularly well remembered to the present day. The mummers’ play – in which one of two combatants is slain and then revived by a ‘doctor’ – can have a cast of up to fifteen or more characters. Among its central figures are Prince George and Saint Patrick (or the Turkish Champion) who perform a mock fight. Other characters include Father Christmas, Beelzebub, Jack Straw, Green Knight, Biddy Funny, Oliver Cromwell, Big Head and Devil Doubt.
Room to Rhyme is a collaborative project the aim of which is to document the tradition of mumming, past and present. The project was initiated in April 2001 by the Department of Irish Folklore (University College Dublin), the University of Ulster, and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Those interested in participating and learning more about the event are invited to telephone or write to (Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, Dept of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, 00353-1-7167178) or to telephone (Kate Bond, AICH Arts Officer, University of Ulster 028-71 37 54 56).