Boys’ play from Dundalk - 1915

B.Jones (1916) pp.301-304


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Context:
Location: Dundalk, Louth, Ireland (IJ0407)
Year: Perf. 1915
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]

Source:

Bryan Jones
Collectanea : Christmas Mumming in Ireland
Folk-Lore, Sep.1916, Vol.XXVII, No.III, pp.301-304


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

{(a) BOYS' VERSION.}

Rim Rhu. [Footnote 2]

Rim Rhu, gallant boys, give us room to rhyme:
We are going to show some activity coming on to Christmas time.
The night is young and an act is old.
And an act that was never acted on a stage before.
And if you don't believe me and give in to what I say,
Enter in Prince George and he'll clear the way.

Prince George.

From England have I sprung.
I have conquered many nations,
And many victories won.

Rim Rhu.

What are you but an old stable lad?
You fed your horse on oats and hay,
And ran away.

Prince George.

You're a liar, sir!

Rim Rhu.

Take out your pot and pay.

Prince George.

Take out your sword and play.

{Fight. Prince George fall.]

Rim Rhu.

A doctor! a doctor! Any doctor to be found
To cure this man of his deep and deadly wound?

Doctor.

Here comes I, a doctor, doctor true and good.
I've travelled France and Germany.

RimRhu.

What can you cure, Doctor?

Doctor.

The plague was in, and the plague was out.

Rim Rhu.

What else can you cure, Doctor?

Doctor.

Get me an old woman threescore and ten,
The knucklebone of her big toe hanging out,
and I will set it in again.
Compogus, compogus, Paddy come and play.
Get up, dead man, and fight your battle again.

Prince George.

I have been half puffed and huddled in the sky:
These moons and stars have caused me to die,
And if you don't believe me and give in to what I say,
Enter in Beelzebub and he'll clear the way.

Beelzebub.

Here comes I, Beelzebub,
And on my shoulder I carry my club,
And in my hand a dripping pan,
I call myself a jolly old man,
And if you don't believe what and give in to what I say,
Enter in Oliver Cromwell and he'll clear the way.

Oliver Cromwell.

Here comes I, Sir Oliver Cromwell,
With my large and copper nose.
I made the Frenchman for to tremble, and the Germans for to quake,
I bet the jolly Dutchman coming home from he wake.
And if you don't believe what and give in to what I say,
Enter in Diddle Doubt and he'll clear the way.

Diddle Doubt.

Here comes I, Diddle Doubt,
With the tail of my shirt hanging out.
I was in hell, I was kicked out,
Fried in a pot of stirabout.
And money we want, and money we crave,
And if you don't get money, we'll sweep yees all to he grave.


Notes:

Jones' introduction:

"While I was at home in the neighbourhood of Dundalk for a few days' leave in December last the house was visited one evening by a part of small boys mumming. We saw them play, and copied down the rhymes which follow. I consulted our gardener, an elderly Meath man, who had often supplied me with scraps of folklore, and found that he had no experience of Christmas mummers, but he interested himself in the subject and took down a version of the play from one Matthews, a labourer works under him. Matthews, who is about forty years of age and a Louth man, says that when he was a 'chap' (i.e. about fifteen) the ballad singers used to hawk broadsheets of mumming rhymes at Christmas time. He was rather vague about the whole thing, perhaps because he was shy with me. I have not been able to make as full enquiries as I should like, but it seems worth noting that small as the County of Louth is Christmas mumming seems to be unknown in Ardee and Carlingford (Matthews come from Bragganstown near Castle Bellingham). The boy, who have disappeared from my ken, said something about a schoolmaster, so that possibly their version may have a literary origin. So may Matthews's for that matter. Perhaps (a) is mainly Patrick Kennedy's County Wicklow play, [Note 1] and (b) a blend of Kennedy and some English version.

Matthews seem to have no idea about dress, but most of the boys wore pointed masks and more or less distinctive costumes. Rim Rhu has a long cut-away coat of blue flowered chintz and trousers of similar red material; the Doctor, a coat and a black bowler; and Diddle Doubt, a shovel hat. Beelzebub explained that he had started with a Tail but must have dropped it on the road."

Jones' Footnotes:

Note 1: "Dublin University Magazine, 1863, page 584."

Note 2: "I can make nothing of this name, and am inclined to think it merely a corruption of 'room! room!' though 'rhu' may be ruad, 'red.'"


File History:
Entered by Peter Millington - 22nd Dec. 2000

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