The Keening Wake

The Keening Wake was a Heritage Lottery Fund backed project led by Way of the Village aiming to introduce people to the keening tradition of Scotland and Ireland. In doing so we hoped to inspire people to reflect on the many ways grief and loss can be approached today.


Having recruited a small team of artist-researchers who had a depth of experience in voice and sound as a healing force, we gathered archive material, oral lore and informed opinion from across Scotland over six months in 2017. The artists drew all these threads into a devised piece, a ‘taisbeanadh beò’ The Keening Wake Event.

The keening woman (bean-tuiridh), wailed laments – the Gaelic “tuireadh” means “lamentation” or “death-song”.  The word keening originates from the Gaelic caoineadh meaning “crying”.  Keeners often sang or spoke their elegiac laments and death lullabies while clasping the corpse or lying by the graveside.  Some believed the act of keening enabled the deceased soul to leave the body.  Of course, it also served the social function of expressing the community’s grief and paying respects to the dead. For more please visit The Keening Wake Website:

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