There are so many rabbit holes on the internet designed to lure us in like fish to a hook.
And like many of us who are searchers of family past and present I subscribe to one called Ireland Reaching Out – a free site ( no payment needed) one that you don’t have to be a ‘member of’ to enjoy the content.
Just ‘drop in and read’ – if you are really interested you could join their mailing list – which is how I found this interesting article
After my Granny in Belfast died (1960) and Dad had come back from the funeral it was a little bit quiet in our house. Slowly he started to talk about it and one thing he mentioned and seemed rather happy over puzzled us
Dad said ‘all the houses on both sides of the street had closed their curtains’
We sort of knew it was an old fashioned thing to do with funerals but that was all
Then Mum would often say ‘don’t put your shoes on the table – it’s bad luck’.
We had no idea what would happen but none of us dare put shoes (new or otherwise) on the table😊
That Irish website I referred to up above recently put out a new article.
One where Rituals, Superstitions, Women, Games and the Church all played a part.
The traditional “Merry Wake” represented the core of the funeral customs of the poor. Opposed by the Roman Catholic clergy throughout the nineteenth century, the “Merry Wake” was performed right up to the first half of the twentieth century source
And after reading it guess what I discovered – two little gems that might explain Mum and Dad’s words…..plus much much more
- All curtains in the house would be drawn except for the one nearest the body to allow a clear pathway to heaven
~ ~ ~ ~
- Candles were placed at the head and foot of the deceased along with a pair of shoes to aid their travel to the next world
You’ll find it here – The Irish Wake – 5 Facts.
Also if you’re interested, and maybe many of your Irish ancestors migrated to America here’s another article about a different type of wake
An Irish Wake for the living- American Wake
As well as this one
The Irish Wake and its gender roles
12 Replies to “A Good Send Off…”
Thanks for this – and for yet more rabbit holes to get lost down.
I am fascinated by death and the rituals surrounding it. Thank for this insight.
I remember transferring a dying patient from the four bed ward to the quiet of the lounge (on their bed, they were literally dying). Unfortunately they took their last breath en route and the family (Asian) were desperately placing a coin on their tongue to ensure payment of passage.
My Presbyterian Irish grandparents were a mystery to me. My Catholic Irish grandparents I was more familiar with; I knew them. I may take a look at that web site you cited.
My English born partner went ballistic once when I put a boxed new pair of shoes on the table. He also insisted on paying twenty cents to the person who bought us steak knives as a gift. I don’t know why but I won’t open an umbrella inside the home, nor allow anyone else do so. I’ve heard of the blind closing a the day of a funeral.
You mentioning Quora a post or two ago had me heading down many rabbit holes.
Interesting!! I love reading about all these customs. Here in Greece there are so many, and a lot of them are around death and funerals. The customs are slowly dying out except in rural areas
Yes, when I was a child growing up in North East England curtains were always drawn when somebody had died. I recall a period of nervousness in case we overslept and neighbours assumed the worst!
Really interesting info and I’ve never heard it before and I do love to follow rabbit holes and you are right there are so many to follow
Hello Cathy. I found your blog through a comment you left on Caree’s blog. I always find it interesting how old sayings or customs came into being. Thanks for sharing!
How interesting. I always wonder about the origin of customs and traditions. Sometimes I think they were rooted in something practical. I don’t have Irish ancestry but I do like learning about different cultures and their old way of doing things.
What an fascinating post, Cathy! I’d never heard the term, ‘merry wake’, but it’s interesting to see those words used together. A strange and wondrous custom!
Now this is interesting, I’ve just finished a novel set in the Era of big houses, servant, the lord of the manor and family. This one set in England.
When the wife died the inhouse nurse maid flung open the sickroom windows so the soul could travel to the hereafter and then the rest of the curtains were closed shut.
Of course the time period of the tradition didn’t unfold but guess once the deceased was buried, life returned to the manor.
I feel all rituals do have some meaning. The curtains one is interesting
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