Doing the Wren – 1980s style

An interesting insight into ‘doing the Wren’ almost 40 years ago comes courtesy of The Avondhu archives dating from January 1981.

‘Going with two heads’ (figure that one out), Bobbie Bradshaw penned the following piece – thankfully all returned to Mitchelstown, having visited several public houses enroute, to ‘divide the spoils’. 

‘As an alternative to dozing St Stephen’s Day away a couple of us decided to go on the Wren – Kildorrery, Glanworth, Fermoy and back to Mitchelstown, that sort of thing. For a day and a night John Doc was a Sheik; Paddy Fitz a coalman; Hyland a sleepwalker; Ferrick a dish; and this person went with two heads.

Having spent hours in preparation we waited until we got to Kildorrery to tune-up. After John Doc’s thirty-four semi quaver introduction to ‘Pleasant and Delightful’, people, not noted for their willingness to converse, suddenly looked around frantically for someone to talk to. By the third verse they were running dementedly through the pub in search of the front door. We gave up.

A seismologist might have predicted our arrival in Glanworth for 3pm. There we were further proof to some old ‘Groaners’ (in its proper sense) that popular music has been in steady decline since Bing Crosby’s jazz days. The money-bag was gathered and placed lovingly into the car. We had a Ceili. In the best tradition of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ Ferrick wanted to take a balloon to Fermoy; but we told him to leave the Christmas decorations alone.

“Ow, eez ye-ooa maite iz e? Ran awy n-ow athaht pyin f’den!”, the barmaid forgave him. It was time to go to Fermoy.

“Turn back. Turn back we’ll all be killed”, cried each person, as the Glanworth Castle waved us on. It was too late.

Fermoy had all the dream-like quiet of a place on the verge of total collapse. All the streets were empty so we decided to try a few pubs. The Sheik (he’s the lead singer on account of knowing all the words) began again with ‘Pleasant and Delightful’. That was alright, but not knowing when enough was enough we all started to sing it again.

As the customers were picking up glasses an ashtrays, somebody suggested we leave. We did. In the next place some smart-alec at the counter asked if we could play the Angelus; the Sleepwalker told him to hum the beginning of it, and we’d take over. After numerous visits to other public houses we gave up and watched the film in Kate O’Brien’s.

Stephen’s Day was in full swing as we arrived in Mitchelstown. Lighted trees had sprung up all over the place. Happy in the knowledge that for three years in a row we had celebrated the Wren as it was meant to be done, the rest of the night was spent dividing the spoils.

Maybe next year the heads won’t be boiled off us with drink.’