What Happens at an Irish Funeral?

Wondering what to expect at an Irish funeral or an Irish wake? Get ready for a heartfelt, beautiful ceremony steeped in culture, tradition, and fond memories for the departed.

An Irish funeral is often a celebration of life filled with warmth, laughter, and stories. It's a chance to honor the person who has passed with joy, and remember the impact they had on the people around them.

If you’ve been invited to an Irish funeral or an Irish wake and are feeling a little lost about what to expect, we've got you covered!

This guide will walk you through the unique traditions of an Irish wake, from the celebratory atmosphere to the heartfelt tributes.

The Irish wake: A celebration of life

An Irish wake isn't quite like any other funeral or memorial service — it’s a heartfelt tribute with a unique feel of merriment and community.

The idea is to celebrate a life well-lived, sharing cherished memories and stories with warmth and laughter. Friends and family come together to honor the departed, not just in mourning, but also in joyful remembrance.

Here’s usually what you can expect if you’re attending an Irish wake:

Guidelines for attending an Irish funeral

If you’ve been invited to an Irish funeral and aren’t sure what to expect, do, bring, or wear, don’t worry!

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your presence at an Irish funeral is a source of comfort and support for the family.

What to bring?

What to wear?

How do you participate?

The Irish funeral procession and service

The Irish funeral procession and service offer a final opportunity to honor the person and provide closure for the family. Here’s how this usually unfolds:

The procession:

The service:

Following the service:

Musical traditions at an Irish funeral

Music plays a profoundly moving role in Irish funerals. It offers solace to those grieving and celebrating the life of the departed.

You can expect to hear traditional Irish melodies and songs, often with both poignant and uplifting elements. Here’s a brief overview:

Spoken tributes: Prayers, blessings, and poems

Spoken tributes are a cornerstone of Irish funerals, offering a space for reflection, spiritual comfort, and heartfelt expression. Here are some popular elements you might encounter:

Gaelic blessings for comfort:

Frequently asked questions

What is a typical Irish funeral?

A typical Irish funeral consists of two main parts: The wake and the funeral service. The wake is a lively gathering where friends and family share stories and memories of the person who has passed, often accompanied by music and food.

The funeral service, usually held in a church, is a more somber affair with prayers, hymns, and eulogies.

What is the Irish saying when someone dies?

A common Irish phrase you’ll hear or see when someone dies is "Suaimhneas Síoraí Air" or "Go Raibh Suaimhneas Síoraí Air."

These phrases translate literally to "Eternal Rest Upon Him" (or "Her" or "Them" depending on the deceased). They're the closest equivalent in Irish to the common saying "Rest in Peace."

How long are Irish funerals?

The length of an Irish funeral can vary, but typically the wake will last for two nights, and the funeral service itself will be around an hour.

Do you wear black to an Irish wake?

While black is always a respectful choice. You can also opt for subdued colors like navy or gray, or ask the family if they have a specific dress code in mind.

What happens after an Irish funeral?

Following the burial, mourners often gather for a reception or "waking wake" — a meal traditionally held to provide continued fellowship and support for the grieving family.

Next steps

We hope this article helps you prepare for an Irish funeral. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, please accept our deepest condolences.

Coping with a loss is never easy, and if you’re still planning out your memorial event in the Los Angeles area, consider using Meadow.

At Meadow, we understand the weight of this moment. We offer a more compassionate and meaningful way to celebrate a life well-lived with customized memorial planning services.

Our team of caring memorial planners will partner with you during this tender time to create an occasion as remarkable as the life it honors.

With our licensed team, you can expect:

Explore our Personalized Memorial Services.