Folk traditions to combine at museum

RIGHT: The Armagh Rhymers pictured at the Ulster Folk Museum with a selection of drums ahead of the first Mummers and Drummers event this Friday, July 19.

THE unmistakable rattle of the Lambeg drum and pageantry of traditional Irish mummers’ plays are to come together for their first public demonstration at the Ulster Folk Museum this week.

The first-ever Mummers and Drummers event takes place at the museum in Cultra this Friday, July 19.

Armagh Rhymers, one of the most celebrated traditional music and theatre ensembles on the island of Ireland, will join Lambeg drummers to marry the two traditions.

Throughout the day, the renowned mummers will stage a series of costumed performances featuring music, song and dance. The performances capture the spirit of ancient Irish house visits, where the kitchen became the theatre, and the history of the Wrenboys, an annual tradition celebrated on St Stephen’s Day (December 26) and once common sight throughout Ireland.

Visitors to the museum’s Hand & Pen Orange Hall, an original hall from County Monaghan which was rebuilt in Cultra in 1995, will hear the thunderous rattle of the Lambeg drum as played by demonstrator Willie Hill and other skilled drummers and learn more about its history and prominence within Orange culture.

In the afternoon, the two traditions, mummers and drummers, led by two fife players, will come together for a procession through the rural township of Ballycultra as the Armagh Rhymers showcase the music and storytelling of mummers’ plays as accompanied by the Lambeg drum.

Encouraged to join the procession, visitors will also have the opportunity to try their hand at playing some of the instruments, which also include bodhráns and uilleann pipes.

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