Hear about the origins of the Irish Wake, the ancient practice of keening and rural funeral ‘games’.

PODCAST: Hear about the origins of the Irish Wake, the ancient practice of keening and rural funeral ‘games’. With kind permission from https://www.aftering.com

The modern Irish funeral traces its history from the neolithic to the present.


This program investigates the mysterious intentions of ancient pagan ceremonies and how customs became blended into the funeral rite of the Irish Catholic church. How the middle ages brought Viking burial on a large scale to this island of Hibernia.

Irish Wake Toasts are traditionally with Irish Whiskey.

The toast itself is to speak with heart, about the person and the impact their life may have had on those they loved. Or simply to wish them rest and peace.

With a glass in hand, all in attendance raise that glass to the person lost with water of life ( Uisce Beatha * – Meaning water of life but the Irish Language for Whiskey) and the toast or toasts are spoken.

Many families look for a special glass, a glass they will always keep and use on special occasions to remember the lost person , in a way, to bring them along to the happier occasions in life.

Some families buy our Wake Toast set of Ceramic Tumblers, others ask us for Irish Crystal Tumblers.

Defining a new and enduring tradition.

The idea is that each family member ( Partner & Adult Children)  is presented with a Whiskey Tumbler that they will use for the Wake Toast, but will keep their own glass to bring to other family gatherings in the future.

If you would like to know more about our individually handmade Irish Wake set click here.

If you would like to know more about our Irish Hand Cut Crystal Tumblers and “The Parting Glass Collection” through our premier brand partnership with Gifts of Ireland – Click here.

Aidan, the owner of Gifts of Ireland, and a friend of mine, has offered Irish Urns visitors a 10% discount if you use this coupon code  PARTINGLASS

**Uisce beatha Pronounced ‘ishka bah-ha’, English-speaking countries simply took the first word– uisce— and mispronounced it, giving it the phonetically written name ‘Whiskey’.

Plant an Irish Oak Memorial Tree, in memory, as an enduring gesture to help heal the heart and the planet. Click HERE for more information A handwritten card will accompany the Planting Certificate.

You will hear about Wakes, Keening and the incredible sexualized games played by mourners in rural Ireland. How 19th-century families took photos of their dead and how that practice has returned. As the Irish diaspora traveled so did their funeral customs. You’ll learn how the Wake has become Americanised and what the Irish funeral has now become.

Aftering.com would like to sincerely thank all those who agreed to take part in the program. Many thanks to Dr. Maeve Sikora, Dr. Ned Kelly, Dr Stephen Harrison, Dr Jenny Butler, Clodagh Doyle, Michelle Collins, Dr. Laura Kelley, Michael Burke, Dr Ciaran Wallace, Dr. Lisa Marie Griffith, Gus Nichols, and Peadar Farrelly, Dublin City FM and Broadcast Authority of Ireland.

Sound clip of Kitty Gallagher is From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.

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