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Back in 2001, my Irish language teacher came up with the idea of our Gaelic League group sponsoring a cultural tent at the Dublin Irish Festival. He wanted a Wake House, a place where we could recreate the wakes of days gone by with music, stories, craic...you get the idea. Well, I volunteered to create the "corpse"--a stuffed body that my kids dubbed "Grandpa Lumpy" and I made up a tombstone (foam, a magic marker and some stone-look spray paint). After a bit of research, I also worked up a couple of handouts and the tent came into existence.
It was a hit from early on, with #2 Son demonstrating some of the games played and new items/descriptions added to the display yearly. I even wrote my own little booklet about wakes for those who wanted more info. Not only have thousands seen the Wake Tent at the Dublin festival, we've taken it to other festivals--most notably the Michigan Irish Music Festival in Muskegon the past two years. We even helped a Columbus cemetery celebrate their bicentennial in 2006.

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Comment by Felicia on March 30, 2008 at 18:16
What a really interesting idea and approach you have! I would really like to learn more about it and will look forward to exploring your site.Sounds like oyu helped put the humanity back into life and death--I think the stoicism of the funeral home causes peple to deattach--a far cry from the days of the house wake.
Comment by Jennifer O'Brien-Tomka on February 20, 2008 at 1:01
I'd love to hear more about how you organized an Irish Wake. This would be something interesting for my city's Irish Society to try in the future. We hold a week-long celebration with various cultural events leading up to St. Patrick's Day and this would be a neat idea!
Comment by Cathy Jo on November 20, 2007 at 0:13
In southern Ohio, wakes/funerals at home were the norm until the end of WW2, then they shifted to the funeral home. I still get stories of home wakes down in the Appalachian Mountains from the people who visit pour exhibit.
Comment by Tim on November 19, 2007 at 17:36
When my grandfather died--the wake was at the house, like back in Eire. Very different from what normally goes on in the U.S.
Comment by Cathy Jo on October 22, 2007 at 13:22
Sioban, yes, I do have pictures on my website--www.irishteller.com on the Wake page. I'll have to bring some over here.
Comment by Sioban on October 22, 2007 at 0:34
Do you have pictures posted of the Wake Tent or of your booklet?

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