Faire, a captivating new Irish Language Broadcast Fund documentary from Imagine Media delicately explores the subject of the traditional Irish wake looking at the rituals performed and the emotional benefits such a process can bring to those left behind. It airs tonight on TG4 on Wednesday, 5th October at 9.30pm.
Faire is a celebration of a phenomenon that has become uniquely Irish and which marks us out as a people apart. The Irish wake is seen less and less in modern Ireland and is disappearing in the cities. However, in many rural areas the practice of watching over the recently deceased is still practised. It remains a mildly ritualistic and comforting part of the grieving process.
Some of the ancient customs and beliefs associated with the Irish wake have long disappeared. Faire explores what they were, where they originated and, just as importantly, what they symbolised. Many of them can be traced back to pre-Christian times and ancestral worship; others date to the early and more modern Christian period in Ireland where many wake traditions are inextricably linked to the Catholic idea of Purgatory.
People come from near and far to share the sorrow of the people left behind, to celebrate the life of the departed and their faith in the life ahead. We talk to local people and to a team of academic experts, Dr. Daithí Ó hÓgáin of University College Dublin and Dr Lillis Ó Laoire about the importance of the Irish wake, its origins and what the future holds for this disappearing cultural experience.
In many ways the wake is as much for the benefit of the living as it is for the dead. This is really what’s at the core of Faire. All of the symbolism, tradition, lore and literature surrounding the wake is informed by this relationship and takes us on an exploration of what the traditional Irish wake says about our unique relationship with death.