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Published on 7 Jan 2008
Taking their name from their disguise Strawboys are an ancient wedding tradition the origins of which are unclear. Strawboys are recognisable by their uniquely shaped conical straw hats and dress and, despite their title, nowadays comprise both men and women. Our Co. Sligo Sidhe Gaoithe Strawboys go out to weddings in Northwest Ireland and occasionally travel as far as Dublin. The purpose of the Strawboy visit, which lasts about half an hour, is to bring good luck, happiness, health and prosperity to the bride and groom. The central part of the ceremony is the crowning of the wedded couple before and after which our members dance, sing, play music and recite poems to entertain the guests. When done properly Strawboys are the only one of the three related traditions (Wrenboys, Mummers and Strawboys) who should wear straw hats and skirts. Previously it was a tradition to burn the hats on the way home when the group was well received at a wedding. If they were made unwelcome or not hospitably treated the hats were thrown high up in the tree branches so that next day the whole village would know of the bride and groom's meanness! (More on Irish traditions at www.sligoheritage.com)