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When They Tried to Ban The ‘Waits' in Castlebar ...
By Alan King
30, Dec 2016 - 11:54

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Sadly, the ancient festive tradition of the ‘Waits' has been discontinued in Castlebar due mainly to the fact that the streets no longer have many families residing over their business properties. But while the custom continued for generations, there was one year when it was officially prohibited by the local Superintendent of the Civic Guards (as they were known back then). In late November 1925, a notice appeared in the Connaught Telegraph with an order that no person or persons were to carry on with the ‘Waits' due to a number of complaints received. The news spread right through the town with locals furious that an old custom was to be stopped and then fingers began to be pointed at people thought to have been the complainers. A number of prominent people wrote to the Connaught telegraph angrily denying that they had made any complaints to the guards and it wasn't long before the local UDC councillors got involved. A war of words between the council and the Superintendent took place with the council querying whether he had the authority to ban any such tradition and pointing out that he was a relative newcomer to the town. After the staff of the Connaught investigated the complaints made, it came to light that the complainants were a number of commercial travellers who had stayed the previous December in the Imperial Hotel and had been woken up by the cries of ‘Good Morning....' as the waits made their way around the streets. Once this came to light, things quietened down - the Hotel received a notice to be displayed and explaining what the ‘Waits' are and what to expect. The Superintendent rescinded his order and the ‘Waits' took place that year with Joe Bloxham, Tucker Street and Paddy Clarke, McHale Road heading the team.

Another attempt though was made in 1957 to abolish the ‘Waits' when a Councillor in the UDC put down a motion for their abolition and described them as ‘a nuisance which caused cats to scream and dogs to howl' Thankfully he didn't receive any support for the motion and for another one to abolish the ‘wren boys'.



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