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About the author. Emer McLysaght. That is how things go; you appreciate the value of one thing when you learn about the opposite. In other words, you value life when you face death in one way or another. Well, that gets us to a different questioning; what is death? The only common answer that you will get is that death is an inevitable destiny. Sooner or later, it is going to get to all of us.

Though, cultures deal with death in different ways. These differences are shaped by the traditions of the society and the dominant religion of every culture. Another thing that all cultures share about death is the funerals.

Irish Wake Memorial Service

Then, where is the difference? The difference lies in how you deal with death when someone you cherish is forever gone. In fact, Ireland is one of the countries that have a different opinion about death. The Irish culture and heritage have always had eccentric customs and traditions. This can be obvious when you learn about the Irish wake and the beliefs associated with it. While some countries do carry out the wakes, the Irish wake is deemed to be a very special one. Death is an inexorable part of every community and culture.

In spite of how harsh death can be, it can surprisingly unite people and bring them closer. That may sound weird, but when someone dies, people become more aware of their final destination. Besides, the family, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased gather to grieve and mourn.


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Grieving has always been part of death. Conversely, people around the world do not grieve in the exact same way. Each culture can grieve in its very own method. The same applies to Ireland; grieving in Ireland means carrying out an Irish wake. The latter is a tradition that generations have been performing for centuries.

Despite its significance to the culture, Ireland has grown more diverse. That made parts of the country have different customs from other parts. Thus, the wake became more common in the rural areas rather than in the urban areas and the cities. The History of the Irish Wake Revealed.

Click Here. The Irish wake is a tradition associated with death and funeral yet it is surprisingly a kind of celebration.

How do you know if you're at an Irish funeral?

This may sound shocking; however, it is not that sort of fun parties and celebrations. Irish people believe that the wake is a way to let the dead and the alive bound together. Here is what happens at an Irish wake; first, it takes place in the home of the deceased person. But, sometimes, people hold the wakes at the place of someone who was close to the dead person. They prepare a room and gather the stuff of the departed to place them near an open window. Supposedly, the open window is the point from which the spirit of the departed would leave the house serenely.


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Among the performed customs, they put lit candles at both the foot and the head of the deceased. The departed person gets dressed in their best clothes and the body should be visible to the visitors. In some cases, families wrap a Rosary around the hands of the dead person. Although the wake takes place in a specific room, there are traditions that extend to the rest of the house.

For example, the family members should stop all the clocks at the time when the death occurred. They shall also close all the curtains and cover the mirrors. These customs are part of the Irish wake; however, some of them no longer take place or occur anymore.

Mainly, those who attend the wake are ones who were family and friends of the departed. Although it is usually about the close people, some families allow whoever knew or cared for the deceased to attend. Definitely, death and funerals create a gloomy atmosphere. But at a wake, you can come across people who laugh and share memories they had with the deceased. Once all of the attendees arrive, the wake starts taking place. The prepared room embraces the body of the lost loved one.

They keep the body in that room for about three nights. This gives the opportunity for the loved ones to visit the house and see the body. Each person is allowed to grieve by spending the last few minutes of the dead body. They either recite prayers or say goodbye for the last time.

After that, they get out of the room and share a drink with the rest of visitors. That is how the celebration takes place. The real origin of the wake thing remains mysterious. However, there are some sources that claim that the tradition derives from religious rituals. They say that the paganism was the reason that the wake came into being. One of those religions was Judaism. It was claimed that the ancient Jewish were the first to introduce this tradition.

The Jews used to leave the burial chamber open for several days. That was actually because they believed that the departed may come back to life. Besides, they also allowed members of the family to see the deceased for one last time. The claim states that there was lead poisoning in pewter tanks in the ancient times.

Those tanks held beers, wine, and other beverages that people consumed.

How the Irish teach us to live, love, and die

Definitely, the lead transmitted to the cups where people poured their beverages, leading to poisoning. It led the drinker to enter a state the Irish referred to as a Cationic State. Thus, the wake happened in order to ensure the person was actually dead and not poisoned. The Irish wake is pretty similar to a funeral. However, people in Ireland believe that is a cause for celebration. Illustrations by Julia Wertz.

By Karen Zraick. Joan Beasley, who opened the restaurant with her then-husband, Ron, had grown up down the street. When she was little, an older neighbor described how the building had once been a carriage house for horses. Women in fancy dresses and men in suits would wait for their carriages to be ready. The image captured her imagination and eventually would give the restaurant its name.