Recently I was in Ireland spending a quiet weekend in the medieval town of Carlingford.
Little did I know it was one of the seven towns in Ireland plagued by Hen and Stag parties. In this town, with a population a little over 1000, the pre-wedding rituals of groups of boisterous young men and women take up a lot of space.
Late in the afternoon the crop-haired young men in T-shirts are well settled into the beer gardens. The young women favour themes. Nurses, witches, nuns with very short skirts and so on. With blue, green or pink wigs, sashes, and the bride-to-be sporting a veil or tiara their jollity is quite ferocious. They hurtle through the town in groups before settling at the pubs or restaurants where they are dining.
It had to be explained to me that the Hens and Stags were not previously known to each other, but who knew what might happen as the night went on.
As we walked home from our sedate dinner at The Bay Tree café, the noise level was rising. Male voices cheering, females giggling and screeching, the streets lined with short stocky bouncers with black ear-pieces. The music was hotting up, thump thump thump. It was on for young and old.
Below an account from a local newspaper:
As we returned to our leprechauned B and B it did occur to me to wonder why the women accept the name ‘Hens.’ Hens are small, insignificant beings who peck about laying eggs, while stags have great heads of horns and stand posing on hilltops. These Hens could give any Stag a run for his money
Image: By Gofitty (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons