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Irish Wakes, Poems and Prayers

Irish Wakes, Poems and Prayers

In Ireland, upon the death of a loved one in the rural country, the body is laid out and is “waked” by the friends and neighbors. After the family and friends have had time to intensely lament for their beloved, food and whiskey are brought out and the group celebrates the life of the one who has passed.

In honor of that tradition, below we have several Irish and Celtic poems and prayers that are often heard at the wake and funeral. Written from the perspective of both the mourner and the deceased loved one, these poems and prayers are deep and heartfelt. May they resonate with you upon hearing them.

Irish and Celtic Poems and Prayers

Those we love don’t go away,
They walk beside us everyday,
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.


I could not stay another day,
To love, to laugh, to work or play;
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
And if my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.


A Caim written as a night prayer for someone recently bereaved

This night and every night
Seems infinite with questions,
And sleep as elusive
As answers

Pain and longing are always present,
Dulled only a little
By the distractions of day.
I am weary; I am angry.
I am confused.

Circle me, Lord.
Keep despair and disillusion without.
Bring a glimmer of hope within.

Circle me, Lord;
Keep nightmare without.
Bring moments of rest within.

Circle me, Lord;
Keep bitterness without.
Bring an occasional sense
Of Your presence within.


May the good earth be soft under you
When you rest upon it,
May it rest easy over you when,
At the last, you lay out under it,
And may it rest so lightly over you
That your soul may be out
From under it quickly, and up, and off,
And be on its way to God


Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.


May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear, even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
When the shadows fall – you do not walk alone.


Walking with Grief

Do not hurry
As you walk with grief;
It does not help the journey

Walk slowly,
Pausing often:
Do not hurry
As you walk with grief

Be not disturbed
By memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive;
And let Christ speak for you
Unspoken words.
Unfinished conversation
Will be resolved in Him.
Be not disturbed.

Be gentle with the one
Who walks with grief.
If it is you, be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive;
Walk slowly,
Pausing often.

Take time, be gentle
As you walk with grief.

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