Funeral Wail

The loud "wail" for the dead soon sounded from the mountain. "She's a proper woman," said one, "and her six children are all very sorry for her, the cratur." I went on to the gate till the multitudinous procession arrived, bearing the coffin on a couple of sheets, twisted so that four men could take hold one at each end, and carry it along. Women were not only howling, but tears were fast streaming from many an eye. When they reached the abbey, the grave was not dug, and here was a new and louder wail struck up. While the grave was digging, eight women knelt down by the coffin, and putting their hands upon it, and beating with force, set up a most terrific lamentation. The pounding upon the coffin, the howling, and the shovelling of earth from the grave, made together sounds and sights strange, if not unseemly. The body was to be deposited where a brother and a sister had been buried, and when they reached the first coffin, took it out, and found the second rotten, they took up the mouldered pieces and flung them away. The bones of the legs and arms, with the skull, were put together, and laid by the side of the coffins; the new coffin was put down, and the old one, which was the last of the two former, was placed upon it.

When all was finished, they knelt down to offer up a prayer for the dead, which was done in silence, and they walked away with much decency.

Read "Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger" at your leisure

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

Read Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

This book cannot be recommended highly enough to those interested in Irish social history. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, travelled from her native America to assess the condition of the poor in Ireland during the mid 1840s. Her journey took her through the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Tipperary, Cork, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Cork, Kerry, as well as parts of King's County (now Offaly) and Queen's County (now Laois).

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.