An intimate, lyrical look at the ancient rite of the Irish wake--and the Irish way of overcoming our fear of death
Death is a whisper for most of us. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, pull the curtains, and speak softly. But on a remote island off the coast of Ireland's County Mayo, death has a louder voice.
Each day, along with reports of incoming Atlantic storms, the local radio runs a daily roll call of the recently departed. The islanders go in great numbers, young and old alike, to be with their dead. They keep vigil with the corpse and the bereaved company through the long hours of the night. They dig the grave with their own hands and carry the coffin on their own shoulders. The islanders cherish the dead--and amid the sorrow, they celebrate life, too.
In My Father's Wake, acclaimed author and award-winning filmmaker Kevin Toolis unforgettably describes his own father's wake and explores the wider history and significance of this ancient and eternal Irish ritual. Perhaps we, too, can all find a better way to deal with our mortality--by living and loving as the Irish do.
Hachette Books; February 2018
- ISBN: 9780306921452
- Read online, or download in secure ePub format
- Title: My Father's Wake
- Author: Kevin Toolis
Imprint: Da Capo Press
In The Press
"As a boy, he learned to kiss the corpse at a traditional island wake. As a filmmaker and witness to death in many conflict zones around the world, Kevin Toolis has written a profound book on the culture of grief and death, placing the personal alongside the political in a vivid exploration of our ancient ways of coming together around the dead. This is a moving family story, a memoir of loss and exile, a deep understanding of what makes us alive, casting a cold eye on what is precious and so often denied."--Hugo Hamilton
About The Author
Kevin Toolis is a writer and BAFTA-winning filmmaker. The author of a celebrated chronicle of Ireland's Troubles, Rebel Hearts: Journeys within the IRA's Soul, he has written for the New York Times Magazine and The Guardian and reported on conflicts around the world. His family has lived in the same village on an island off the coast of County Mayo for the last two hundred years. Toolis makes his home on the island and in London.