Northern Ireland 's Funeral Traditions

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Northern Ireland’s Funeral Traditions in Literature One of the most telling parts of a society is how they handle the traditions that surround one of the hardest things that humans experience: death. Northern Ireland is a prime example of how a group of people can build up a set of traditions that help the morning process and how those traditions can be a healing experience that helps a family and community celebrate the life of the deceased. Washing and preparing the body is an important part of the process that has been mentioned in several works of poetry. The traditional Irish Wake is also extremely important in celebrating the life of the dead and all they accomplished, complete with drinking and laughter and being with family and…show more content…
He describes it as, “They had been laid out/ in tainted rooms,/ their eyelids glistening,/ their dough-white hands/ shackled in rosary beads.” Through this depiction of the dead we can see the preparation that went into the body, it had been washed and laid out in a very traditional way, the way hat it had been done for centuries. This sense of tradition can, in a lot of ways, help ease some of the pain from the loss, the sense of belonging to a community of people with a set of traditions that even the dead have a right to. We also see how important the rosary is to the Catholics that this is describing, so important that Heaney mentioned it in his description, symbolizing that the rosary beads and the religion that they belong to still trap the body that they are attached to, even in death. Daniel Hoffheins from UC Davis says in his literary analysis says “Heaney slyly adds at the end of the second and third stanzas that the corpses’ rosaries act as shackles, fettering their “obediently sloped” wrists. Such intentional observations echo Heaney’s initial qualifying statement and lace his “courteous admiration” with a hint of sarcasm, lending the tableau of the hovering women around the open coffins a bathetic quality, like moths hovering around an open flame.”. Hoffheins makes the same point that their religion and their sympathies make them slaves to the idea of a united Catholic Ireland. Heaney
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