WATCH: This touching video about modern day mummers is the lockdown story we all needed
26th Nov 2020
Reviving the tradition of calling to people’s houses to entertain and bring luck, this group is bringing music and connection to their rural community during Covid-19.
Mummers are an old tradition in Ireland, dating back as far as pagan times. During the 12 days of Christmas, they would dress up and go round people’s homes in the community and perform, as a way to bring luck and happiness into the new year.
Traditionally, mummers would sing, dance, play music and tell stories, while the hosts had to try and guess the mummers’ identities.
A group of musicians: dancer Edwina Guckian, singer Fionnuala Maxwell, banjo player Ryan Owens and accordian player Brian Mostyn have been reviving the tradition, visiting the homes of elderly or vulnerable people in Co. Leitrim during lockdown.
By going to people’s homes and performing, as well as having a chat, they’re helping to combat the isolation many older people in particular are feeling at the moment, as well as reviving a wonderful tradition.
“I think the thing that means the most to people with the modern day mummers project,” Edwina explains, “is the actual conversation itself. We play a few tunes, we sing and we dance, but you’ll always see people try to hold us as long as they can through conversation.”
The people they visit are delighted to see them, and many were musicians themselves, and so have a particular appreciation for the music. One man, Charlie, who they visit, joins in on his tin whistle, and Edwina remembers watching him perform with her grandfather as a child.
She says they have had other groups of musicians from around the country get in touch with them to see if they can recreate something similar in their own communities. Combining community spirit with great music, this would be one tradition we’d love to see revived across Ireland.
You can watch the full video below.
Featured image: Modern Day Mummers, RTÉ Creative Ireland
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