As a young Irish adult living in today’s society, it is fair to say that Ihave seen and been to many removals in my lifetime. Some of people I have known well, others mere acquaintances. These havealways been very solemn and often upsetting occasions and in myopinion, mark death’s finality. They are occasions that areoverlooked by whichever religion the deceased was a part of but asan Irish citizen I have only been present at ones overseen by theCatholic Church.Needless to say, I often found that removals were such depressingaffairs that when my own grandmother passed away, I was notlooking forward to that experience. Therefore, imagine my surprisewhen, shortly after the day my grandmother passed away, I wasinformed that we would be having a wake for her. I was not toofamiliar with this term so when I asked my mother about it she toldme that it would be a rosary for my grandmother. This made moresense to me as it tied in with the other two events, the removal andthe funeral, each an event overseen by the Church. And as mygrandmother’s house began to fill with children and grandchildren,cousins, aunts and uncles, we all gathered around her bed, bowedour heads and prayed solemnly. This solemn atmosphere lasted foronly thirty minutes after the priest had left the house, then someonediscovered the guitar, a bottle of whiskey was opened and whatbegan was one of the strangest parties (or sessions, for that’s whatit was too) I have ever been a part of. And after asking one of myolder aunts, whether such carry-on was appropriate, she replied,you have clearly never been to a wake before!Clearly I haven’t.So I was glad of the opportunity to go and discover what exactlydefines a wake and why is it that the Irish wake has become knownaround the world and remains so popular today. What follows is, Ihope, a good understanding of this unique tradition us Irish havekept alive over centuries and have bestowed unto the world.