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The Strawboys are an eclectic group of visually magnetic Irish performers. These performers go beyond any spectacle commonly associated with Ireland and are likely to enthrall and startle unfamiliar audiences.

Their exuberant costume, regal like masks and thrilling theatrics give rise to questions concerning Ireland’s lesser known traditions.

Historically, the Strawboys tradition was most prevalent in rural areas of Ireland. The Strawboys would arrive at a bridal breakfast party, disguised in masks made of straw, regaling the wedding guests with song and horseplay. The tradition petered out during the 1950s and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the tradition was revived by groups such as the Fingal Mummers in Co. Dublin.

The Strawboys today are drawn to the tradition for reason perhaps similar to their forefathers. The performance allows group members to practice music, song and dance - intrinsic to the lives of those involved in the practice. It also offers a means for rural communities to actively socialize and engage with each other.

This series is a celebration of such colorful characters through formal portrait. Creating these images brought me to parts of Ireland which I had never visited before and where I met with characters who will forever stay etched on my mind – the Strawboys.

Gráinne Quinlan