Irish Boy Choir Costumes

Figure 1.--The Irish boy choir tradition is not as rich as that of England, in part because of the dominance of the Catholic church which did not emphasize choral music as much as the Anglican church. The boys in this Ulster choir wear Eton collars.

Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the midevil era. One of the longest traditions is that of the English boy choirs. Ireland since the 16th century was part of the British realm. Indededence was not gained until the 1920s and of course did not include the four counties of northern Ireland. This long association with England had a profound impact on Ireland. The Anglian church was established and the English attempted to end the Catholic Church's almost mistical hold on the Irish people, denying Catlolics many privliges and imposing many burdens upon them.


Boy choirs were established at the Anglican cathedrals. As Catholics finally began to gain their civil rights in the late 19th Century, the Catholic church became increasingly prominent. Several created boy choirs.


The uniforms worn by Irish boy choirs, both Anglican and Catholic, were the same as those worn by the English choirs. The Catholic choirs appear to have commonly adopted Eton collars more often than the Anglican choirs, but there appear to be few other differences. Outside of participation in religious servicesm, the boys would commonly wear the school unifirm to which the choir was attached.

Individual Choirs

we do not yet have details on individual Irish choirs.

Individual Accounts

An Iriish reader writes, "I came across your site whilst looking at Choirs.I was in my school choir and remember when we went to England on a tour we had to wear white kneesocks just like the girls. The worst was that all the English boys laughed at us--but the priest and our mammy's thought they were just great. They made us wear them when performing back home in Ireland --until we refused to sing! Then they let us wear short white socks - which was o.k. - as long as they were different to the girls! My mam still has photos of that English tour. I cringe every time I see them, but I've got to admit we do look the part. Now I'd wear anything. It's a stange thing how you are when you're 12 years old!" [Walsh]


O.G. Walsh, Patrick. E-mail message, December 14, 2003.


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Created: November 2, 1998
Last updated: December 14, 2003