Death Customs and Caoineadh

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  • Teideal (Title): Death Customs and Caoineadh.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781503.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): Joe’s background.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 02/03/1978 – 03/03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Joe describes how the keening women used to cry over the dead at wakes and funerals. Links with how people used to attend when Caoineadh na dTrí Muire was being sung on Good Friday. People would become emotional, and cry. Meaning of the word ochón. Keening women did not have to be related to the dead person; they weren’t paid to do it, but they specialised in it and they did it. They got great respect — at the end everybody was in tears; men, women and children. They’re dying out now. People aren’t waked for three days and nights any more; nowadays they only have them one night in the house, then one night in the church, and the third day they’re buried. No special songs or hymns at funerals — just the keen, when people would sing the lament, the keen, praising the person who has died, wishing they were still here. The person who was performing this lament would actually be crying their own dead. There wasn’t a great deal of variability in these laments, most of what would be said about the dead person would be of a general enough character that even though the person performing the caoineadh would be — as Joe puts it — ‘crying their own dead’, the sentiments expressed would be applicable to the person who died on this occasion. Joe says he heard this often enough, but that he doesn’t do it himself — there are some things that are more appropriate for women than men, and this is one of them.