Horsemen and Wren Boys follow traditional routes

 

THE WREN Boys and huntsmen were out in force yesterday as traditional St Stephen’s Day outings were blessed with fine weather.

One of a number of hunts across the country was the South Union Hunt meet at Carrigaline, where riders supped a traditional hot toddy on the bridge in the Cork town before moving off towards Castlelands and Riverstick. Some 25 hounds accompanied the spectacle, though catching the fox was an exceptional outcome, huntmaster Pat Maher pointed out.

“The fox is incredibly elusive, you don’t always catch him, he has the knack of getting away from the hounds,” he said.

Mr Maher led up to 100 riders on the hunt that boasts a 200-year history, following in the tradition set by avid rider Thomas Knowles, who hunted “seven days a week”, according to Mr Maher.

As the hunt moved off, the Wren Boys were building up momentum at a gig rig erected in the town, celebrating their own St Stephen’s Day tradition.

The event has come a long way since organiser Barry Cogan rubbed coal on his face as a novelty disguise in a bid to revive the tradition 25 years ago.

“We have bagpipers ready and the two groups on the Wren will arrive from the south side and the north side of the town and meet in the middle, where they will dance and sing for a couple of hours before going on tour of the local pubs,” he said. The Wren Boys in Carrigaline named the Marymount Hospice and the Motor Neurone Disease Association as the benefactors of yesterday’s collections.