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About the Armagh Rhymers

The Armagh Rhymers are one of Ireland’s most celebrated traditional music and theatre ensembles. For 30+ years we have delighted audiences at international children’s theatre festivals, ritual drama and folk festivals. We are Mummers, ballad singers, actors, musicians, dancers, storytellers and clowns, dressed in amazing costumes and masks of flax, willow and straw.

The masked tradition of rhyming with its unique blend of music, drama, song and dance dates back over 2,500 years. It celebrates the ‘theatre of the people’ and has inspired many major Irish poets such as Seamus Heaney, Brendan Kennelly, John Montague and John Hewitt.

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What we do

What people say

Fantastic show - full of energy, fun and participation. Rhymers had wonderful rapport with the children. A day they will remember for a long time. Rhymers had excellent awareness of disabilities and working caringly and sympathetically with the young people to get the very best from them.

- Fleming Fulton, Special Needs School

Those festival goers lucky enough to catch the Armagh Rhymers at Glastonbury had a whale of a time

- Gordon Adair, BBC on Glastonbury Festival

There were people from 12 European countries and they were blown away. One girl from Slovenia said 'it was the most brilliant thing that has happened to me in Ireland'

- Andy Pollack, Trans Frontier Euro-Institute Network

Myths and Legends - a fantastic part of our book week. Thanks again.

Millisle Primary School

Very interactive, enthusing, enjoyable, great music, excellent use of instruments to match parts of the story. Great interaction with children.

Mt. St. Catherine's P.S.

The Rhymers were excellent, ages ranged from 3-10. Children interacted fully and were enthused and willing to take part. It was great fun and the stories were inspirational. The music was excellent, incorporating different cultures. Parents said that the children will remember it forever.

- Children's Festival, Mayo

As always a wonderful and energetic performance which engaged a very varied audience drawn from many ethnic groups in our area.

- Public Library, Dublin

It was an excellent session. the children thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was appropriate for the age level and suitably varied.

- Dromtrasna, N.S.

Media

Events Calendar

This is the start of the Wicca Coll (or Hazel) period, which runs from August 5th to September 1st. The main attributes of people born during this period are: wisdom, a love of creativity and an ability to inspire others.
The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom and inspiration. According to mythology, hazel trees grew around a sacred pool. Nuts which dropped into the water were eaten by salmon, which absorbed the wisdom. A Druid teacher, in his bid to become omniscient, caught one of these special salmon and asked a student to cook the fish, but not to eat it. While he was cooking it, a blister formed and the pupil used his thumb to burst it, which he naturally sucked, thereby absorbing the fish's wisdom. This boy was Fin McCool who went on to become a heroic leader.
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This is the start of the Wicca Tinne (or Holly) period, which runs from July 8th to August 4th.
The main attributes of people born during this period is a sense of justice, which gives them the drive and the moral strength to right wrongs. They also enjoy life.
Holly is also known as Christ’s Thorn. The sharpness of the leaves help to recall the crown of thorns worn by Jesus; the red berries serve as a reminder of the drops of blood that were shed for salvation. The Druids wore holly in their hair as a protection against evil spirits. Holly was brought into the house to protect the inhabitants against evil and the fairies. If the first leaves brought in were spikey, then the man would rule for the coming year. If they were smooth, then the woman would hold sway.
The berries are hard and unpalatable in the autumn but soften after hard frosts and are eaten by the birds.
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Lúnasa or Lamas, celebrates the maturing of the crops and that year’s young. All prayers and honours bestowed on the god Lugh at this time are to distract and please the god so that the coming harvest will be bountiful. By tradition Lugh instituted games and fairs to honour the memory of his foster-mother, Tailtu. During this period, which could last up to 15 days, all disputes and fights were to be put aside. The feast also celebrates death and rebirth, which, in more recent centuries, is celebrated by a couple making love among the corn sheaves. The potent corn spirit is also captured in woven corn dollies. ... See MoreSee Less

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The Wicker Man festival
Most of what we believe about the events surrounding the Wicker Man festival are based on the cult British horror film of the same name, starring Edward Woodward. A film that is well worth watching.
The Wicker Man is (usually) a giant figure made up of a wooden frame lased with flexible sticks. Normally this is burned at the end of a service (allegedly) to the old Celtic gods, to ensure a good harvest. In many places this ceremony has been contaminated by Christian beliefs and practices. In Italy the festival is now held on Mid-Lent Thursday..
The belief that a man or woman was immolated within the wicker basket appears to based on misinformation put around by the Romans. However, the Portuguese in particular may have used the festival to dispose of people already condemned to death. Or failing that, someone handy who wasn’t going to be missed.
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TODAY IS THE FEAST OF LITHA, which is celebrated on the Summer Solstice. Today is the longest day of the year and, paradoxically, is the day the sun’s powers also begin to wane. Litha is celebrated at dawn on an old sacred site. A fire is lit and drums are beaten to encourage the rising sun to shine long and bright to encourage growth.
This celebration has been carried out for millennia at the Knockmany Passage Tomb, which overlooks the Clougher Valley. It was constructed 3000 to 5000 BC and is the resting place of Queen Áine, of the Dana, the people who inhabited Ireland before the Celts. Áine was the goddess of love and fertility. Here also is the world of the Sidhe, the divine spirits, where the dead walk among the living.
John McAllister, writer and avid reader. @John_Armagh
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Contact

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39 Abbey Street, Armagh, BT61 7DY

T: 0775 126 8512
e: info@armaghrhymers.com

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