Modern Wrenboys in Moyvane

by Aine Cronin

Over the past five years the Moyvane-Knockanure Wrenboy Group has become a regular fixture at the annual Wrenboys competition in Listowel. The group, which came together for the ’94 competition, consisted mainly of talented people of all ages from Moyvane-Knockanure, but we were also given a helping hand from neighbouring parishes.

Our aim was to achieve success in the competition within three years – our ‘3-year plan’. This was not as simple as it sounded! There was a lot of hard work involved in the run-up to the Races and commitment was essential. Many hours were spent getting the right measure of music, dance, song and prose into our show. Finally, we were satisfied with our contributions and became more relaxed and confident that we could give a performance that would be worthy of our parish. Moyvane-Knockanure Wrenboys Group was well on their way!

Up until our first dress rehearsal we were pretty relaxed and I don’t think the whole thing sunk in until the night of our first dress rehearsal. The hall was awash with colour. Tinsel glittered in the lights and there was a Christmas feeling between the group, even though it was only September! We began to count down the days to our performance in Listowel.

‘D-Day’ arrived and we travelled to the Plaza in Listowel on the Friday evening. The atmosphere in the hall had mixed tones of excitement and tension rolled into one. Steps were practised once again, harmonies checked and instruments tuned. It was not long before we were positioned on the street to begin the Wren march. When we got to the stage the nerves rolled away and everybody put on a flawless performance and enjoyed themselves completely, which is really the essence of a Wrenboy presentation.

The group did very well on the first outing by coming second in the placings and also winning the title of ‘King of the Wrenboys’, which was awarded to Gerard Donegan. The Moyvane-Knockanure Wren Group showed that they would be in there for the reckoning over the coming years.

Over the next two years the group made some minor changes, that being, in the content of the show and fresh talent joining the group. Sadly, this meant that many very gifted performers also left us. Since the group had been established we had been led by Gabriel Fitzmaurice, and we continued to achieve good results in the competitions. We were awarded 2nd and 3rd places and also another ‘King of the Wrenboys’ title, once again for Gerard Donegan. An ‘Overall Best Performance’ for Tom Moore for his story-telling was another coup for our group. Despite not obtaining 1st place during the three years, we had definitely made our mark.

The following year the group unfortunately disbanded, but a number of people who joined a group from Athea continued to compete in Listowel. The group has competed for the last two years and has a very large group that is split half and half between the stage and the ground. The group is led by Leo Finucane, who has incorporated new ideas into the concept of a Wren group.

In the last two years the Athea group has been awarded 2nd and 4th place, with Eileen Cronin from Moyvane awarded ‘Best Overall Performance’ in 1998.

Hopefully the tradition of Wrenboy groups from Moyvane-Knockanure will continue as it is a way of tapping in on all the talent in the parish. The feeling you experience on your way to the stage during the Wren march is hard to describe, but ’emotional’ is a word that could be used. Support is also important and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who go to cheer on the Wrenboys year after year.

“Up with the kettle and down with the pan
and give some money to bury the wren.”