School: Cnoc na Biolaraighe

Watergrasshill, Co. Cork
Dll. Mac Carrthaigh
The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0382, Page 075

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The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0382, Page 075

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  1. XML School: Cnoc na Biolaraighe
  2. XML Page 075
  3. XML “Old Customs Observed in the Locality in the Past - The Caoining Women”

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  1. Of all the old Irish customs the practice of "Caoining" the dead was one of the most touching.
    This old custom was carried on in the Watergrasshill district up to about 60 years ago. Each district had its own "Caoiners" sometimes two did the "Caoining" but generally there were four. The "Caoiners" were old women who had a knowledge of the family history of nearly everyone in the district. They were generally paid in some sort of way either in goods or money.
    The following is a description of the "Caoining" which I often heard the old people relate.
    The four "Caoiners" took up their positions, two on each side of the corpse, the second day of the Wake. They then started relating the dead person's good qualities all the time crying and clapping their hands. Sometimes their voices were hushed to a whisper often raised to a shriek. This continued for a considerable time. Then one of them started a chant in a weird voice, the others at this time remaining silent. This chant was in some sort of rhyme and always was the subject of the Dead person's ancestors their great deeds either in battle or their fame in hurling or other games. At intervals this chant ended in crying in which all four took part. Then the one who had started
    (continues on next page)
    Transcribed by a member of our volunteer transcription project.
    Peggy Sarsfield
    Skahanagh South, Co. Cork
    Patrick O Connor
    Condonstown South, Co. Cork