Monday, January 3, 2011

Entertainment in Medieval Ireland

Medieval Ireland features a wide variety of entertainment, professional entertainers, and performers. Most prominent is an array of performing fools. Several early Irish terms exist for these performers. Foremost as a performing fool was the druth. The term is related to the term druid, although the two figures are distinct. The druth offered various kinds of entertainment, most prominently physical and vocal antics best associated with the medieval jester. Impersonating and mocking the congenital fool, also known as druth, was also featured. Several descriptions of the druth include comments suggesting the performing fool was indeed mentally deficient. The professional druth is often described in colourful motley clothing, with long shaggy hair. This semblance was clearly an important part of his trade. According to several Law Tracts, damage to his clothing or hair demanded compensation. A common figure of the saga texts, the druth is most closely associated with royal and other high-ranking members of society. A professional fool was often part of a retinue, receiving both payment and protection from his patron.

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