An intimate, lyrical look at the ancient rite of the Irish wake—and the Irish way of overcoming our fear of death
Death is a whisper for most of us. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, pull the curtains, and speak softly. But on a remote island off the coast of Ireland's County Mayo, death has a louder voice.
Each day, along with reports of incoming Atlantic storms, the local radio runs a daily roll call of the recently departed. The islanders go in great numbers, young and old alike, to be with their dead. They keep vigil with the corpse and the bereaved company through the long hours of the night. They dig the grave with their own hands and carry the coffin on their own shoulders. The islanders cherish the dead—and amid the sorrow, they celebrate life, too.
In My Father's Wake, acclaimed author and award-winning filmmaker Kevin Toolis unforgettably describes his own father's wake and explores the wider history and significance of this ancient and eternal Irish ritual. Perhaps we, too, can all find a better way to deal with our mortality—by living and loving as the Irish do.
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