Irish Catholic Funeral Traditions

Every culture in the world practices some sort of ritual or ceremony in recognition of a death. Such traditions give surviving family and friends an opportunity to gather together, comfort one another, and share memories of their loved one. The Emerald Isle isn’t just home to beautiful green countryside, it’s also a country steeped in a rich history of interesting funeral traditions. Many of these traditions are practiced by Irish-Americans here in our country, as well.

The Irish Wake

The most notable aspect of a traditional Irish Catholic funeral is the wake. This time between the death and the burial is typically observed by way of a specific set of practices, although the details depend upon each family’s religious beliefs and desire to adhere to historical norms.

A traditional Irish wake is characterized by some or all of the following:

  • The deceased lies in repose in a special room in their own home or the home of a relative.
  • Visitors come and go as work schedules allow, with the men traditionally visiting with each other outside if the weather allows.
  • Mirrors are turned to the wall or covered to allow mourners to grieve in peace without seeing their reflections.
  • Clocks and watches in the home are stopped at the time of death.
  • Food and drink is made available, often by neighbors and relatives.
  • A rosary is said at least once, usually near midnight before visitors take their leave.

The wake may last one to two nights. It is then followed by the removal, when the deceased is transported to the funeral home or church so that the Mass or service and burial can take place.

Enduring Customs

Funeral homes have become more common in larger cities like Dublin over recent decades. This has led to some families opting for more modern arrangements, such as visitation in a facility rather than in the family home. Still, tradition carries considerable weight. Those who work in the funeral industry in Ireland point out that a large number of people still choose a home wake.

One thing is certain – there is comfort in ritual, no matter where you live. At Mountain View Funeral Home, we can assist you with funeral arrangements which reflect your family’s beliefs and traditions. Contact us for respectful, professional help planning a funeral in the Phoenix area.

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