Mary Jo Ryan Duncan
Samhain 2015: Mulranny, Irish funerals....
Samhain in Mulranny
At Samhain Great Aunt Grainne boils potatoes
for departed souls.
Sets them out on best plates with butter,
salt and pepper, then goes to bed.
Visiting niece and partner, back from the pub
polish off the spuds.
As ever, at first light,
Great Aunt Grainne greets the Samhain morning.
Shock! The spuds are gone.
Relief. Finally her reward.
Visiting niece and partner sleep on.
First and last Irish Funeral
Young and wild In the 1950s when Ireland was poor and sad I hitchhiked
the west of Ireland and knew I’d come back and I did, often. In the
1990’s when Ireland was on its way to the Celtic Tiger I retired in
Vancouver and returned to live in a Connemara village and my first Irish
funeral – not mine, but that of Kevin Cassidy. From the Church the
congregation walked to the cemetery, the priest waiting by the open
grave. The grey and windy day suited the occasion. The priest intoned the
prayers as the coffin was lowered into the grave. And the song began. A
clear, high, unaccompanied and special voice of a perfect sean-nós
singer, a young woman relative of Kevin’s, sang Amhran Mhaoinise. Her
strong, penetrating voice carried on the wind to all of us then back out to
sea. She sang and sang. No one spoke or moved, mesmerized at the
voice on the wind.
Now I live in west Mayo and have attended quite a few more Irish
funerals. And I have prepared for the last, my own – in Killeen cemetery,
a beautiful site on Clew Bay. Killeen is my mother’s maiden name.