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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


Respected journalist Brenda Power told me about a friend of hers who took an unusual step. He's a slightly well-known psychologist, who appears on TV and radio from time to time, but he bought a grave in Mount Jerome cemetery about 20 years ago and he was lucky to get a nice location in the shade of a tree and he goes there frequently to contemplate his mortality from time to time! It’s Interesting but I have no plans to adopt the practice myself. Wouldn’t I look the right sight in Baltyboys? Speaking of which, thanks to Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs correspondent with The Irish Times I now have a new word. Eschatology is defined as, “ the part of theology concerned with death, judgement and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” It comes from the Greek Eskhatos for, last, furthest, most remote.

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We all collect and enjoy, “Famous last words.” I saw the following on social media; It was by a man who was wondering what the most used Irish phrase is, “I’ve asked my wife about this. She’s Hungarian, living in Ireland for fifteen years. In her opinion it’s ‘I’m grand’, which she has heard nowhere else. This is intended to convey that all is ok but was probably the last words of several people.”

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They weep, and place him on the bed of state,
A melancholy choir attend around,
With plaintive sighs and music’s solemn sound:
Alternatively they sing, alternate flow
The obedient tears, melodious in their woe.
(The Iliad of Homer.)

Daughters of Dun Iascaigh ; A Light on the History of Cahir Women, is a 300 page hardback published by Cahir Women’s History Group. The group formed in 2017 believed that ,”The valuable recording of history was laudable and competently done; but it did seem , from the group’s perspective, that women had been neglected in that historical narrative,” The twenty contributors to this fantastic publication set out to rectify that. And they have succeeded. In it Mary Caulfield gives a comprehensive account of how women , “ . . . dealt with the more intimate side of death and dying especially when it came to laying out the corpse.” She goes from a description of how the women of Troy washed the body of Hector to a detailed account of how , in Ireland, it was the women who prepared the body and tied the marbh fhaisc (the death knot) a piece of cloth binding the jaw to keep the mouth closed.

Keening of the dead , as a practice, largely died out in Ireland more than half a century ago. But the author points out that Irish Travellers have been known to perform a version of keening up to the present day. When describing a keening scene in a production of The Shaughraun in New Inn, she says, “ The depiction of wailing women around a corpse had a very powerful effect on those present, highlighting how the keen awakens a deep emotion within the human psyche.”

Daughters of Dun Iascaigh was Tipperariana Book of the Year 2018 is available. Details from

Late one night recently I was coming out of a house close to Esker Cemetery. ( If you are wondering why i was coming out of a house late at night you can mind your own business!) Anyway I was accosted by twoyou please walk us up the road we are afraid to pass the graveyard.” I said, “I used to be afraid to pass it too, when I was alive.” For some reason they ran away.

The Irish Famine Museum / Exhibition is seasonal and located on the 2nd floor of the Stephens Green Shopping Centre in Dublin. It open between 12pm and 6pm. We are recognised as one of the best museums in Dublin to learn about the Famine / Great Hunger. If you are visiting our capital city you like museums, and would like to know what really happened in this great catastrophic event, then this exhibition is a must. This exhibition was first held in Dublin, Ireland throughout the summer of 2017. The exhibition was called The Irish Potato Famine (1845 to 1852) and it's purpose was to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the Famine year 1847. For additional information on the Great hunger go to;

I am attaching two notices from a hundred years ago which need no explanation.

See you in June.

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