Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Doctors, Robbers and Wakes

This isn't a story but a wacky bit of history. I just found out today the reason funeral wakes came into being.

I just thought that the Irish loved a good party and any reason would do just fine. The beginnings of the Funeral Wake had a much more serous start. Medical science was in its infancy and they were mad for bodies to work on, expanding their knowledge. Annoyingly people were not so keen to co-operate. The number of people willing to be cut up in the name of science was tiny. Enter the greatest evil, cash.

The doctors began paying good money for a body. Enter the second great evil, people. Supply and demand did the rest. It was not long before freshly planted loved ones were just getting up and vanishing. That was when the wake was born,

Relatives would have to wait with the body while it was prepared for burial and stay awake, watch it while it was placed in the grave yard staying awake all the time. Lastly they had to stay with the body for several days afterwards particularly at night to make sure it was not dug up again while still usable.

Today a wake is a way to say good bye to a loved one but once it was a way to make sure you didn't loose them for good.

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