Killeedy Wrenboys who won their second All Ireland title in Listowel at the weekend
THEY burst onto the Square in Listowel in a blaze of flaming turf sods and turned on the magic and the music. And within hours, last Friday night, the Killeedy Wren Boys had the coveted title of All Ireland Wrenboy Champions safely tucked under their straw hats.
“It was a mighty night,” said Jim Mulcahy, aka the Mayor of Ashford and a central member of the Killeedy group.
“It was like the All-Ireland hurling final all over again. There were about 5,000 people in the Square and when we won, the town nearly erupted.”
The group racked up its first All-Ireland win in 2004 and last year, they were runners-up in the competition held annually in conjunction with the Listowel Races.
“But this year we turned silver into gold,” Mr Mulcahy declared, with deep satisfaction. “It came down to the last two but we beat Cooraclare from Co Clare,” he added.
A huge effort had gone into ensuring that their 40-minute set went without a hitch, Mr Mulcahy stressed. “I had the turf steeping for six weeks,” he revealed, adding he had also fashioned pot-holders for the turf-sods rather than holding them on pitch-forks. They had also created holly bush props and bird-cages.
“There were points for presentation as well as for performance,” Mr Mulcahy explained.
In all, about 50 people across all ages were dressed and rehearsed and, with Mike Cunningham as King of the Wren, they presented a seamless, entertaining set of singing, dancing, recitations and music, co-ordinated by their music director, Neilus Herbert.
“We had to have everything on the button,” said Mr Mulcahy whose party piece on the night was the story of how a bodhrán is made.
He was, he revealed, unable to do his usual brush dance because of a hip replacement.
But if the win in Listowel was mighty, the homecoming in Ashford on Sunday night was even mightier. There, the All-Ireland champs gave a spirited outdoor performance before hundreds of neighbours, friends and family, wrapping up lively weekend of family fun in the parish.
All proceeds from the Siamsa Killeedy weekend, along with the Wrenboys’ concert and their €1000 winnings, will go towards the Ashford Tavern project. This ambitious project involves transforming the long-vacant pub premises into a community hub with a Teach Cheoil, a community gym and a youth space as well as a kitchen, bathrooms and meeting rooms. Planning permission for the project has been granted which is expected to cost €250,000.
The project failed to make the cut under the Leader programme for community facilities last year but a new application for a different stream of funding has now been lodged with West Limerick Resources, leaving the community to raise its share of €80,000 to ensure the project can go ahead. They are now well over half-way there.