New Waterford museum celebrates death and its traditions in Ireland

New Waterford museum celebrates death and its traditions in Ireland.

The Irish Wake Museum officially opened its doors to the public on Friday, 16 June, and has styled itself as a museum which prides itself on being dedicated to the history of deaths and traditions in Ireland.

The new Irish Wake Museum is located in a building which was once a former almshouse in the city founded in the 15th century, whose primary focus was as a type of hospice which catered for up to 12 people at a time.

The Irish Wake Museum have also stated that they will generously donate €1 from every ticket sale to the Waterford Hospice Movement.

The Irish Wake Museum – celebrating death and its traditions in Ireland

The Irish Wake Museum.
Credit: Facebook/ Waterford Treasures

The Irish Wake Museum is dedicated to the history of deaths and its traditions in Ireland. It is the newest museum to open in Waterford’s famous tourist district.

Eamonn McEneaney, Director of the Waterford Treasurers group of museums, told RTÉ News about how the almshouse in which the new Irish Wake Museum is located was “all about doing good deeds”.

McEneaney explained that the new museum is the first of its kind in Ireland. As such, it is the first institution to have the main focus of commemorating death.

“If you look around here in Waterford, you have buildings all over which are associated with death.

“When we’re all at funerals, we all think, ‘that will be me someday in that coffin’, so it does remind us of our mortality, but we want to remind people of their own mortality in the museum as well, but say, look, ‘let’s get busy living’”.

This new Waterford museum celebrates death and its traditions in Ireland.
Credit: Facebook/ Waterford Treasures

Upon its opening, the Irish Wake Museum has become the latest jewel in Waterford City’s crown of museums – the Waterford Treasures Museums.

The Waterford Treasures Museums are a collection of museums full of historical artefacts which provide visitors with an interesting look at the fascinating history that Ireland’s oldest city has to offer.

The museum’s collection is viewable across three venues. There’s the Medieval Museum, the Bishop’s Palace, the Irish Museum of Time, Reginald’s Tower and now the Irish Wake Museum.

Rosemary Ryan, the acting curator and manager of the Waterford Treasurers group of museums, talked about what’s in the museum.

“We’ve objects going back to the stone age, such as stone age axe heads, and we also have a bronze age funeral urn, where a cremated person’s ashes were buried, and bronze age axe heads accompanying, and we go right up to the 19th and 20th-century objects.

“We have probably the oldest death mask in Ireland, of Fr Luke Wadding, we have funeral mourning jewellery, we have mementos of different aspects of death,” she said.

Waterford – Ireland’s oldest city

Waterford is Ireland's oldest city.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Founded in 914 AD by Norwegian Vikings, Waterford City, at over 1100 years old, is Ireland’s oldest city.

Located in the southeast of Ireland in the province of Munster, Waterford is Ireland’s fifth most populous city. It is also the ninth most populous settlement on the island of Ireland.

Waterford is also very popular with tourists as, besides its museums, it also has many famous attractions to see.

For example, Waterford Crystal. It also boasts an excellent culinary and nightlife scene.

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