Ballybrennan, Wexford play - about 1823

P.Kennedy (1863)


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Context:
Location: Ballybrennan, Wexford, Ireland (IT0613)
Year: Perf. 1817 or 1818
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers, Mumming

Source:

[Patrick Kennedy]
Hibernian Country Pastimes and Festivals Fifty Years Since
Dublin University Magazine, Nov.1863, Vol.LXII, No.CCCLXXI, pp.581-588


Cast: (Click on any name for the character name index.)
Text:

{Of the old pastime of mumming, some traces existed about the period here treated of, and some years later, but they scarcely were found as far north or west as the May dances. The last company we can recall to mind were raised in the neighbourhood of Ballybrennan, in the way leading from Clonroche to Brie Hill.}

{They entertained the chief folk in their neighbourhood by decking themselves as fantastically as they could, and as best tended to present, in a striking manner, St. George, St. Patrick, Oliver Cromwell, a Doctor, Beelezebub, and a devil of inferior pretensions. The time of representation being arrived, and the scene the hall of the manor-house, the big kitchen of the gentleman-farmer, or, perhaps his barn, and the company being collected, a boy, dressed as nearly in style of a Punch, or a clown, as they could manage, came out from the corner, or the portion screened off, or the next room, according to circumstances and locality, and thus delivered his prologue, waving his bauble as gracefully as he could afford :-}

[Devil D'Out]

"Room room, brave gallants,
Come give us room to rhyme,
For I'm come to show my mirth
And activity in Christmas time.
"Active young and active age,
The like was never acted on a stage.
And if you believe not what I say
Enter in, St. George, and boldly clear the way."

{St. George, equippied with red sash, knee-breeches tied with ribbons; large buckles in his shoes, a feathered hat, with rim looped up in front, and a wooden falchion provided with a basket hilt, came on, as the attendant sprite retired; and, making the six broadsword cuts, saluted, and began his speech ;-}

[St. George]

"Here am I, St. George;
From England have I sprung,
One of these noble deeds of valour to begin.
Seven long years in a close Cave have I been kept,
And out of that upon a prison leapt;
And out of that upon a rock of stone,
Where I made my sad and grievious moan.
Many a joiant I did subdue ;
I run the fiery dhragon through and through ;
I freed fair Sabra from the stake;
What more could mortal man then undertake?
I fought them all courageously,
And still have gained the victory.
For England's right and Ireland's nation
Here I draw my bloody weapon.
Show me the man that daares me stand;
I'll cut him down with my courageous hand."

{Here entered St. Patrick, in attire similar to that of St. George, green prevailing in feathers, and sash and ribbons. He threw himself into fighting attitude, and some broadsword cuts and guards were exhibited by the two saints - but all, as yet, in pure courtesy :-}

"St. Patrick {loquitur}

"Here, I'm the man that daare you challenge,
Whose courage is great;
And with my sword I make dukes and earls quake."

"St. George

"What are you, St. Patrick, but St. George's bay?
He fed his horse seven long years on oats and hay,
And afterwards he run away."

"St. Patrick {enraged}

"I say, be George, you lie sir.
Pull out your soord and thry, sir.
Pull out your purse and pay, sir.
I'll run me rapier through your body,
and make you run away, sir."

{They fight. St. George falls.}

"St. Patrick {in a fright}

"A docthor, a docthor!
Ten pounds for a docthor!
Is there never a docthor to be found,
To heal the prince of his deep and deadly wound?"

{Enter Doctor, in black clothes and three-cornered hat; he is provided with a red nose - cane and pill-box in hands.}

"Doctor

Here I am, a doctor pure and good,
And with me soord I'll staunch his blood.
If you wish this prince's life to save
Full fifty Guineas I must have."

"St. Patrick

"Doctor, doctor, what can you cure?"

"Doctor

What can't I cure?
I can cure the plague within, the plague without;
The palsy, small-pox and the gout;
And if the Divel was within, I'd surely rout him out.
Moreover, if you bring me an old woman of threescore and ten,
And the knuckle-bone of her hip be broke,
I'll set it to rights again.

{Here St. George rises and retires.}

And if you believe me not in what I say,
Enter in Oliver Cromwell, and boldly clear the way."

{Retires as Oliver entered.}

{Enter Oliver Cromwell, armed with a Yeoman-Cavalry [Note 1] sword, and ornamented with a Yeoman-Cavalry helmet, jack-boots, buckskin-breeches, and black stock. His look is truculent, and his nose very red.}

"Oliver Cromwell

"Here am I, Oliver Cromwell, as you may suppose,
I conquered many nations wid me copper nose.
I made the French to tremble, an' my Spaniards for to quake,
An' I beat the jolly Dutchman till I made their hearts to ache.
And if you don't believe what I say,
Enter in Belzeebub and clear the way,"

{He flourishes his sword and withdraws.}

{Enter Beelzebub, in a black wig and red vizard, somewhat of a Punch character. Her carries a hump, and one hand grasps a club - the other, a frying-pan. He clatters these as he enters :-}

"Beelzebub

"Here I am Belzeebub,
And over my shoulder I carry my club,
And in my hand a dripping-pan;
I think myself a jolly old man.
And if you don't believe what I say,
Enter in Devil D'Out, and clear the way."

{Knocks the pan with the club, and exit.}

{Enter Devil D'Out, the youth who presented the prologue. He wields a broom as he comes forward, and more or less annoys those who come nearest him :-}

"Devil D'Out.

"Here I am, little Devil D'Out, [Note 2]
If yous don't give me money, I'll sweep yous all out.

{Broom wielded.}

Money I want, and money I crave,
If you don't give me money, I'll sweep yous to he grave."

{Whatever might elsewhere be the case, the mummers known to us would not condescend to soil their consequence with a collection. Now all the characters came forward, and taking hands, danced a kind of reel, with much gesticulation. Partners were afterwards selected from among the girls, and Christmas licence prevailed to a tolerably late hour. When mummers visited a manor-house or large farm-house, they were treated to punch. When they merely occupied a barn, to entertain the neighbours, general dancing concluded the entertainment - the fiddler, in all cases, being paid by the mummers, who never received any recompense beyond meat and drink.}

{The latest exposition of these Ballybrennan artists that rises before us, commenced at the first fair that was held in Clonroche, some forty years since...}


Notes:

Kennedy's Footnotes:

Note 1: "The Yeoman-Cavalry equipments were easily procurable for years after the rebellion."

Note 2: "'Do out," or put out. 'D'out the light' was a common substitute in Wexford county for 'put out the light.' Our readers can have no idea of the entertainment which this Artless pageant afforded to mere country folk, who never in their Lives had seen a regular piece performed. The costumes, the Speeches, and the combat, interested and delighted them (the Young especially) beyond measure."

Indexer's note:

Kennedy later republished this text - J.Patrick Kennedy, (1867), The Banks of the Boro, London, 1867 - stating that it had been performed in 1817-1818.


File History:
Entered by Peter Millington - 14th Nov. 2000
Updated by PTM - 3rd Jan.2002

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Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)