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May Queens and Mummery Songbook

“There is no special reason to put mumming and May queens together except that it sounds nice and both are seasonal activities.
The May Queen songs belong to Belfast. Rivalry among the chosen queens and their subjects used to be common and the city children eagerly maintained the cause of their own Queen against the Queens of neighbouring streets.
The mummers, the wren boys and the ‘wisp carriers’ came out at Christmas and the New Year. Our mumming play was acted from house to house in the West of Co Fermanagh during the weeks before Christmas. The actors were of course men as they usually were in mumming plays. But children are natural actors, and many of the children’s games already included in part 1 are dramatic. Grandma Gray is another acting game and Rhubarb Where are you going Bob?’ is a piece of absurd dialogue. Bang bang the dishes is a play of improvised dialogue about a situation children understand.” — Hugh Shields, 1971

May Queens and Mummery