The Strawboys Mural

Project location: Ennistymon

Commissioned by: Courthouse Gallery Ennistymon 2023 with funding via the Arts council
An image taken in 1970 by Michael John Glynne of the straw boys, dancing in Ennistymon for a family day,  was suggested as a starting point for this project theme.

Short clip captured by João Tudella


I knew little about The Strawboys (also called Mummers) and the tradition. Over the next couple of months I talked with many people in Clare and Galway about their memories of the straw boys (mummers). From what I gathered it was a celebration which would bring neighbours and the community together focused around dancing, music, and often a play would be played out, this varied depending on location. These gatherings were often held in the kitchens of houses, drink could be flowing and it could often turn into a long night. There is so much more to this old tradition which has changed over the generation and which was not linked with religion and is/was celebrated in many Celtic areas


Who’s going to take on these tradition in the future?

Whats a culture without traditions?

In a time of homogenisation of western cultures through connectivity I think its important to keep traditions alive. I wanted to capture some of this tradition in Ennistymon.

There were many stories but Johnny Maloney from Ennistymon, who still actively enjoys the tradition, gives a wonderful account of the local tradition. A massive thanks to the very talented João Tudella for getting involved, doing further research, footage, and putting it all together.


For the design I used the Johnny Maloney straw hat which was made in Lisdoonvarna by local man.

 In the hat I put a subtle animal head for a link to nature.

The character is anonymous as was part of the tradition and it is difficult to tell if it is a male or female as cross dressing was sometimes done to increase the anonymity,  

The body has a theatrical movement as often a play or stories were acted out.

the fresh pair of runners where for modern twist ,

In the jumper I have some symbols of home and 3 castles which represent - island of the middle home, one of the translations of Inis Di Main

There is a unicorn - on request of my daughters


Colour palatte inspriation from recent walk locally

Thank you to....

Thank you very much Johnny for your stories, time, tea and biscuits.
Simon Corcoron from the Courthouse Gallery for all the support
Thank you Micho Russels family from Doolin for letting us use a sound bite of Micho playing. This was recorded on a trip to Norway by Tellef Kvifte thank you.

 Its great to see people promoting the tradition and even giving it some new interpretation
Go check out - Edwina Guckian @edwinaguckian and Rob heaslip @rob_heaslip_   Thanks for the prospective reference images and information


If you made it this far thank you.