In this extract Seamus Marken talks about the women that would come for deaths. Their role was to wash the bodies and to to lay them out, then they would keen at the wake.

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Moving Image


And what did you think old people behaved like when you were a child?

What did they behave like… it’s very hard to put an answer to that... like.

I suppose what would they do that would make you think that they were old other than them being married maybe or… ?

Well now, old people, you see like I never considered my mother old, now it was mainly my grandmother and there was a few old… we used to call them the witches and I don’t mean that now… there were three old ladies and like they came for deaths, you know, and they’d wash the corpse and stretch him out and they’d sit there, like they used to do in the west of Ireland, they’d be…


Keening, practically, that kind of thing, but that was… they were the old people, like, you know.


26:08.8 - 27:09.4

About this item


Dublin City Life, Community, Gendered community roles



Date Added



"Seamus Marken talks about the social roles performed by women when he was a child.." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #177 (accessed February 23 2018, 4:49 am)