Keening - Caoineadh na Marbh


About this Item

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.  

  • Title
  • Production Year
  • Contributor
    Proinsias Ó Conluain
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Clip title
    Keening - Caoineadh na Marbh
  • Extended description

    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.

  • Information

    This recording was made when a joint BBC/Radio Éireann production unit visited Inishmore on the Aran Islands in 1949 with naturalist and author David Thomson, poet and broadcaster with the BBC in Ulster W R (Bertie) Rodgers and Proinsias Ó Conluain. Each had his own specific kind of programme to record and Proinsias was brought as an Irish language expert to record the beliefs, customs and songs of the inhabitants of Inishmore, in Irish, and to act as interpreter for the others.

    Keening was carried out at wakes, which were held to watch over the dead person as they passed over into the next life and to celebrate the lives they had led. A select group of women, who were known to be good keeners, performed the lament or keen over the corpse. Sometimes wakes could get out of hand with drinking and carousing and this is one reason why some priests didn't like wakes and tried to stamp out keening. Bríd Iarnáin, as she was known on the island, was recorded keening again when American Folk Song collector Sydney Robertson Cowell visited the Aran Islands with a tape recorder in 1955 and 1956. She also recorded Maggie Dirrane - who starred in Robert Flaherty's film Man of Aran - keening and Maggie insisted that her name not be published and that the recording be made behind closed doors. Keening out of context would have been considered unlucky and also the attitude of the priest on the island would have played a part. Maggie's request was granted, and the recording made. It was only with the passing of time that she became identified.

    The accompanying photograph shows the Man of Aran cottage. Image courtesy of Proinsias Ó Conluain Collection. Both Proinsias Ó Conluain and David Thomsom took photographs on this particular trip.

  • Local keywords
    Aran Islands, Bríd Iarnáin, Bridget Mullen, Inishmore
  • Geographical coverage
    Ireland, Galway
  • Topic
    The Media
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  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
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