As a former nurse, she knows how death works. “I know the things I don’t want. I don’t want to end up in hospital having to be fed with a peg feed through my stomach and I don’t want a drip. Just so long as they inject me with painkillers to keep me comfortable that’s it. I don’t want anything to prolong my life.”

Full article in Irish Times here >>>

Bríd Iarnáin (Bean Uí Mhaoláin), Inis Mór ag tabhairt sampla de chaoineadh na marbh anseo gan aon chorp i láthair.

Bríd Iarnáin (Mrs Bridget Mullen) who was a keener from Inishmore gives an example of her craft here with no corpse present.

Tá Bríd Iarnáin, a bhí ina bean chaointe, ag tabhairt sampla de chaoineadh na marbh anseo.Ag pointe amháin deireann sí “an bhfuil do dhóthain anois agat” agus shílfeá b’fhéidir go raibh drogall uirthi an caoineadh a dhéanamh. B’fhéidir nach raibh sí ag iarraidh go sílfeadh daoine go raibh sí ag tabhairt dúshlán shagart an oileáin a bhí ag iarraidh deireadh a chuir le nósanna a bhain le tórraimh agus caoineadh. Lean an nós ar an oileán go dtí na seascaidí.

Bríd Iarnáin (Mrs Bridget Mullen) performs an example of keening here and at one point she says in translation “Is that sufficient for you now?“. She may have been reluctant in case people felt she was challenging the priest on the island who didn’t favour wakes and keening.The custom continued in some form until the 1960s.



‘Caoineadh Na Dtrí Mhuire’

Lyrics and English Translation ( with thanks to “halfmace”)-

Sé a Pheadair, a aspaill, a bhfhaca tú mo ghrá bán?
Chonaic mé ar ball é dá ruaigeadh ag an namhaid

Oh Peter, apostle, did you see my loved one? Alas, alas, and alas!
I saw him while ago, being attacked by the enemy Alas, alas, and alas!

(Keen is repeated throughout)

Óchón, is óchón ó.
Óchón, is óchón ó

Muise cé hé a fear breá atá ar Chrann na Páise?
An é nach n-aithníonn tú do mhac, a Mháithrín?

Who is that fine man on the Tree of Passion?
Don’t you recognize your own son, Mother

An é sin an maicín a d’iompar mé trí raithe?
Nó an é sin an maicín a rugadh insan stábla?

Is that the little son I carried for three trimesters?
Is that the little son who was born in the stable?

Nó an é sin an maicín a h-oileadh in ucht Mháire?
A mhicín mhúirneach, tá do bhéal is do shrónín gearrtha

Or is that the little son who was reared at Mary’s breast?
O little darling son, your mouth and your nose are cut

Is cuireadh táirní maola thrí throith a chosa is a lámha
Is cuireadh sleagha thrína bhrollach álainn

And blunt nails were driven through his feet and hands
And a spear was driven through his beautiful chest


Dhá mbeinn trí léig i bhfarraige nó ar sléibhte i bhfad ó thír
Gan aoinneach beo i mo ghaobhar ann ach raithneach ghlas is fraoch,
An sneachta á shéideadh anuas orm, is an ghaoith dhá fhuadach díom,
‘S mé a bheith ag comhrá le mo Taimín Bán, níorbh fhada liom an oíche.

A Mhuire dhílis, céard a dhéanfas mé, tá an geimhreadh seo ‘tíocht fuar,
A Mhuire dhílis, céard a dhéanfas an teach seo is a bhfuil ann?
Nach óg, a stór, a d’imigh tú, le linn na huaire breá,
Le linn don chuach bheith ag seinm ceoil, gach duilliúr glas ag fás.

Má bhíonn mo chlann sa mbaile a’am an oíche a bhfaighidh mé bás,
Ó tórróidh siad go groíúil mé trí oíche is trí lá;
Beidh píopaí deasa cailce a’am agus ceaigeannaí is iad lán,
Beidh triúr ban óg ó shléibhte ann le mé a chaoineadh os cionn cláir.

Is gearraí amach mo chónra dhom as fíorscoth geal na gclár,
Má tá Seán Ó hEidhin i Muínis bíodh sé déanta ón a láimh;
Bíodh mo chaipín is mo ribín inti istigh, é go rídheas ar mo cheann,
Tabharfadh Paidín Mór go Muínis mé nó is garbh a bhéas an lá.

Gabháil siar thar Inse Gaine dhom bíodh an bhratach insa gcrann,
Ná cuir’ i Leitir Caladh mé mar ní ann atá mo dhream;
Ach tugaí siar go Muínis mé, ‘n áit a gcaoinfear mé go hard,
Beidh soilse ar na dúmhchannaí – ní bheidh uaigneas orm ann.

(Príomh Amhránaí / Lead Vocals: Síle Denvir)


If I were three leagues out at sea or on mountains far from home,
Without any living thing near me but the green fern and the heather,
The snow being blown down on me, and the wind snatching it off again,
And I were to be talking to my fair Taimín and I would not find the night long.

Dear Virgin Mary, what will I do, this winter is coming on cold.
And, dear Virgin Mary, what will this house do and all that are in it?
Wasn’t it young, my darling, that you went, during a grand time,
At a time when the cuckoo was playing a tune and every green leaf was growing?

If I have my children home with me the night that I will die,
They will wake me in mighty style three nights and three days;
There will be fine clay pipes and kegs that are full,
And there will be three mountainy women to keen me when I’m laid out.

And cut my coffin out for me, from the choicest brightest boards;
And if Seán Hynes is in Muínis, let it be made by his hand.
Let my cap and my ribbon be inside in it, and be placed stylishly on my head,
And Big Paudeen will take me to Muínis for rough will be the day.

And as I go west by Inse Ghainimh, let the flag be on the mast.
Oh, do not bury me in Leitir Calaidh, for it’s not where my people are,
But bring me west to Muínis, to the place where I will be mourned aloud;
The lights will be on the dunes, and I will not be lonely there.

(Lead Vocals: Síle Denvir)


(by Jamie Peoples, first-year medical student, TCD)

–          From the start, the author sets out in stark terms the threat posed by stroke – 1/3 die, 1/3 left severely disabled

–          Engages reader by opening with a personal account stroke and it’s risk factors – “sedentary Jewish ladies”

–          Alludes to articles purpose – discussion of how elderly people die- “risk is 30x as great”

–          Discusses mechanics of stroke – defines as “deficit in neurologic function resulting from a decrease in blood flow through some specific artery supplying the brain” – “completion of atherosclerotic process” – “embolus (propelled up) into the brain plugging an already compromised vessel” … Here he invites the reader to see the common thread between stroke and many other causes of death – Ischemia – NYC chief Med. Ex. “every case …the underlying physiological cause is a breakdown in the body’s oxygen cycle.”

–          Occlusive stroke contrasted with haemorrhagic stroke- 40% mortality, ¼ of all strokes, with elderly cases typically due to hypertension

–          Importance of oxygen to the brain – Neuronal sensitivity to Ischemia – “within 15 to 30 minutes of the onset of deprivation” irreversible destructive changes begin

–          Cerebrovascular diseases make up range of commonest killers of elderly

–          Disagreement between (in general) statisticians/ lab-based doctors vs. Author and geriatricians – does life have its natural limits, beyond which people die even without disease/accident?

–          Dr Leo Cooney “ we wish to improve Q.of.Life, not prolong its duration”

–          Evidence from elaborate studies suggest “aging process goes on”

–          Author argues for appropriateness of classifying “Death form old age”

–          Frequent references throughout literary history suggest humanity’s longstanding awareness of this state of affairs e.g. Homer:  “As one generation flourishes, another decays,” Thomas Jefferson: “When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another.”

–          Process of replacement evidently is necessary in nature

–          Mechanism is currently unknown, though two main theories are “Wear and Tear” and “Genetic Tape.”

–          Former postulates that continual progressive damage to cells and organs by toxins, pollutants, microbes etc (or random DNA transmission errors) results in the cell being less able to transmit DNA to its daughter cells.

–          Latter proposes that aging process is dictated by genetic factors, laying out a “sequential program” which progressively shuts down necessary physiological functions, which perhaps occur at different rates in different individuals.

–          Genetic tape argument strengthened by Hayflick’s research, demonstrating orderly process of cell death in fibroblast cells. Also, humorous reference to “picking the right parents” alludes to a statistically significant correlation between parent and child age of mortality.

–          Various other factors also suggested, e.g. Lipofuscin, hormonal changes, cross linking of collagen etc. Apoptosis could also play role, and its process of initiation translation into protein of the myc gene is suggestive of an analogous “Death gene” with a wider remit

–          85% of aging population die of 1 out of 7 conditions : Decreased resistance to infection, mentally depressing states like Alzheimer’s + dementia, hypertension, atherosclerosis, adult onset diabetes, obesity or cancer

–          Frequently more than one factor is present at time of death, and the author personally asserts that these conditions are commonly seen by pathologists.

–          The author conducted research into 23 patients dying after the age of 84, and reports that he observed common failings & overall deterioration which amounted to a loss of vitality occasioned by starvation and suffocation of the tissues (common thread of atherosclerosis, either cardiac or cerebral.)

–          Author comments that death among the elderly is not a result of discreet disease but rather the inevitable consequence of a “progression called aging.”

–          Author hypothesizes there may be a common cause for all these interrelated conditions, and envisions the hypothalamus, which allows adaptation to environment by metabolically regulating  growth and development, could cause eventual aging

–          We are presented with a clinical circumstance, in which we are invited to question whether or not intervention should be attempted if the patient has underlying non-fatal, but possibly related condition. Author suggests examining various rates and extent of progression is desirable for the best outcome.

–          Author hypothesizes that life has a finite length therefore, of around 100-110 years, which is our species-dependent lifespan. Though life expectancy has increase, the author contends that maximum possible life expectancy has remained constant at this level, for example citing the oldest confirmed human being 114 years old.

–          Different apparent maximum lifespans in different species appear to be inversely proportional to the number of offspring, with the longer time for offspring to mature a potential factor in human longevity.

–          Desire to prolong life is evident throughout history, a mission characterised by the author as “those who persist in seeking the fountain of youth.”  HOWEVER author maintains that we should be replaced as part of the natural order “eyes of youth (allows for)…everything constantly being seen anew.” Tennyson is evoked to further this point: “old men must die; or the world would grow mouldy and would only breed the past again.”

–          In the author’s opinion, we should not attempt to persist beyond our given time, because the author feels this places an unacceptable emotional burden on relatives and financial burden on public resources.

–          Moreover, for the author, it is life’s very finiteness which gives impetus to attempt rewarding endeavours, and believes the natural order gives the framework necessary to evaluate our relationship with the generations which follow us

–          Closing his article with a quotation from the French social philosopher Michel de Montaigne (“the utility of living consists not in the length of days but in the use of time”), the author invites us to the conclusion that knowledge of life’s end is what confers the value of time and life.